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Gun buyback programs create a market for stolen firearms. They lower the chances of solving firearms-related crimes. So why do it? “Every gun we get off the streets is one less potential fatality,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said, pithily enough. Citation? Didn’t think so. Like every other politician promoting gun buybacks, Buckhorn is horning-in on the “feel good” vibe generated by the destruction of a pile of broken ass guns. He’s pushing “common sense gun control;” firearms policy dictated by uncritical thought. Pardon me while I touch the sky . . .

During yesterday’s Tampa gun buyback at the Seminole Heights Baptist Church, the cops took possession of “more than a thousand” weapons. They shelled out $50 a pop. I make that $50k. Plus the administrative costs, which would be what? $20k? Minus $12,500 donated by the [slumping] Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and another $5k from a fund established by the bereaved widows of two local police officers murdered in the line of duty.

Is it worth it? If you ascribe to the IOLIS (If One Life Is Saved) School of Taxpayer Tit Sucking, of course it’s worth it. A criminal goes to get a gun to commit a crime. It’s not there! The clever owner (Mom?) traded the weapon for $50. So . . . he gets another one.

Seriously. Is there anyone who believes that removing a thousand skanky guns from Tampa is going to make it harder for criminals to get ahold of a firearm? Is there any rational thought in play here?

If gun buybacks worked, they would lower the supply of guns available to criminals. That would drive up the price. Bad guys would then have even more incentive to steal firearms. The weapons would be worth more on the street. And it’s not as if bad guys are going to say “Screw it, I’ll use a knife.” Unless they did.

Anyway, if gun buybacks reduced the supply, there’d be more home invasions and burglaries. A successful gun buyback would increase crime.

Ain’t gonna happen. America is still, to a point, a free market system. If Tampa’s gun supply went down and the price for stolen guns went up, someone would supply the criminal class with guns imported from someplace where guns are cheaper and more readily available (as they no doubt already do).

In short, gun buybacks are an epic fail—except as a publicity exercise. But gun buybacks are more than stupid. They’re an insidious way to disarm American citizens.

Lower income Americans have a pressing need for armed self-defense. They’re the ones living in high crime areas. They’re the ones who should have a firearm to protect themselves against violence and theft. We should be encouraging (i.e. helping) inner city Americans to tool-up for their own safety.

Relative to that [theoretical] effort, gun buybacks seem benign. No one has to turn in a gun. Lawful gun owners can turn in “bad” guns and hang onto “good” ones. Gun buybacks may not encourage people to own fully-functional firearms. But they don’t discourage armed self-defense. Only they do.

Gun buybacks perpetuate the culture of gun control; demonizing guns and perpetuating the idea that the removing firearms from communities is the key to stopping gun-related crimes. To paraphrase the B52’s, WELL IT ISN’T.

There are a lot of ways to reduce crime. Gun control isn’t one of them. There’s no hard evidence that society can reduce criminal access to firearms. There’s no hard evidence that reducing criminal access to firearms would lower crime rates. In the UK, an island nation that reduced (but not eliminated) the population of illegal guns, Draconian gun control had no appreciable effect on crime rates.

As long as there are guns, criminals will have access to them. We can’t eliminate guns from society; that ship sailed about 100 million guns ago. Nor should we try to de-gun America. Firearms are an effective way for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves against violent attacks (including rape), protect their property and ensure social justice.

The bottom line: instead of gun buybacks, we should be offering lower income Americans gun exchanges. It’s the only sensible policy.

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  1. Nice to see the city of Tampa is loaded (2012 deficit projection of 30 million) with cash to throw all this money around… What’s in the next bag of tricks, replacing cash with medical marijuana cards?

  2. Gun buybacks have the same effect (namely, none) as a few hours of doing a “McD’s Big Mac Buyback to Prevent Obesity.” After all, every Big Mac taken “out of circulation” is one less heart attack waiting to happen and a few ounces of weight not gained.

    In fact, maybe the 2a-ers should hold a $1 Big Mac buyback adjacent to the next gun buyback…

  3. I would have set a booth next to them and buy them for $60 each. I bet some were real gems that are going to get cut up or end up in some thugs closet.

  4. I’m waiting for one of these to come to Lexington or Louisville. I’d be there with a bag of cash, my gun (to dissuade anyone that wants to relieve me of possession of said cash), and a sign. Person-person sales are legal between residents without background checks (for now, and hopefully forever) so it would be a legal way to buy some guns for pennies on the dollar.
    My question is, how can you know if a gun you buy face to face is flagged as “stolen”, and after purchasing legally could get you locked up if the numbers get ran? And is there any laws that protect people that unknowingly buy a gun that was stolen? The thought of going to jail is terrifying to me, especially for a crime I wouldn’t know I commited…

      • Or any random stranger without asking a few questions. High income folks are perfectly capable of stealing, too.

        • High income folks are perfectly capable of stealing, too.

          How do you think they became “high income?” But really, high income people don’t usually steal with a gun. That’s what Ponzi Schemes are for.

    • So there isn’t like a website you can look up serial numbers on? It seems like using a website like (the Craigslist of guns) or buying from any private seller is a bigger risk than it’s worth if you risk legal action. :/ too bad. I guess my dream of cheap guns are squashed.

    • In my state, buyers of a used pre-owned gun write down (using a state ID card such as DMV for verification) the sellers name, address, DMV#, etc. Then they have the seller sign and date the piece of paper. Same goes for the seller to get the buyer’s information. In most cases the buyer and seller are protected and won’t be later prosecuted unless they knew previously that the other person is involved with doing criminal activities. If someone has bought a gun through a private sale then I would imagine they can take it to a gun dealer to have the serial number run. My concern with selling a gun directly to a private party is that I have no control over who may later eventually own it and how they will use it. I certainly don’t want the police to come looking for me because I once bought a gun new legally from a gun dealer only to later learn many years later that some thug left it at a crime scene, and there is now (hopefully) only my own record of the sale long ago. Gun sale records between private parties can deteriorate, get burned up in a fire, etc.

  5. Are these surrendered firearms actually checked to see if they are stolen. Heaven forbid one of my stolen firearms is turned in and some dumb PD just destroys them w/o checking to return them to their rightful owner. I’ve gotten one back from some moron who pawned it…still waiting on the other 4.

  6. If someone buys a gun from a private party and it later turns out that the gun was used in a crime prior to the sale, the buyer may not be charged with anything — but that gun will be seized as evidence and never heard from again. If the private seller stole the gun, the rightful owner has the first claim to its return since good title cannot be conferred by a thief. Even if the seller purchased the gun legally, good luck getting it returned to you as the rightful owner.

    • I don’t believe that cops actually give people back their guns. The whole “less people that have guns besides them” thing. They just conveniently “get lost in paperwork” and the officers probably keep them for their own private stock

      • Most of the time the guns that show up in gun buy-backs are not functional anyway or need work or have some other flaw. In any case they never take guns away from criminals only law abiding citizens. Either directly or indirectly. Many people think if guns are outlawed it would start a black market for guns. Well guess what there already is a black market for guns here in America and some or most are stolen. Others come across the southern border. Most are sold to criminals. Consequently, more laws or stricter background checks will do nothing to stop the gun crime rate if the object is the gun rather then the criminal.

        Quit trying to rehabilitate and start to punish again and gun crime will slow down.

        Who may I ask is dumb enough to sell a thousand dollar gun for fifty dollars? Or for that matter even a three hundred dollar gun. Especially when they may know nothing about guns and find out they can in many cases sell it privately, maybe for even more then that. I thought so!

        However, we all know the gun grabbers will never admit gun buy backs never work for what the objective is/was. I believe it was Will Rodgers who said some people listen to reason and others refuse and just have to pee on that electric fence to find out. That is where we are today.

        If it makes these gun grabbers feel better to buy up old guns that most do not work let them go ahead. WGAS.

  7. My view of gun buy backs is that either the weapons are stolen or do not work. If the gun is legal and works, why not take it to a pawn shop or gun shop?

  8. Great piece, RF. And you said “social justice.” Busted! These bogus gun buy-back things are a way of disarming poor people (no wonder the cops support them). I really appreciate that you recognize that these are the people who probably most need to be armed. Unfortunately, poor, mostly non-white people are exponentially more likely to be busted for some minor drug beef or other young, male stupidity than middle-class white boys (in spite of all evidence that white boys are equally young and stupid), so many of them are not allowed to own guns.

    There is a small amount of thinly and not-so-thinly veiled white supremacism on this site (not from the bloggers, but from the commenters). I won’t name names, yet. But we should call those people out. The Second Amendment is for everybody.

    • One less potential fatality is only realized if the person surrendering the gun offers his hands for cuffs and admits to a crime with the gun, or an intent to commit one. Otherwise, no dice.

  9. I’ve got an 85 year old .25 auto just waiting for a buy back. I’ve not seen one near me yet, I need to suggest they do one and offer 100 dollars for any nasty automatic pistol they free from the streets. I could use the money for ammo for my .308

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