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The burghers of Montgomery, Alabama seem to have woken-up to an interesting, not entirely unpredictable, in fact totally obvious problem with their “gun buyback scheme”: people bring old, broken-ass guns. Weapons that are no more dangerous than a baseball bat. Less. Unlike most cities and police departments, Montgomery isn’t just going to ignore the issue and claim victory (showing the media the few weapons that look both functional and scary). “Instead of offering $50 per gun, the city will pay $50 per person,” reports. “This is being done to discourage people who might misuse the program as a way to unload defective weapons, said Martha Earnhardt, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery Department of Public Safety.” Turns out . . .

The city held its first gun buyback program in 2000 and quickly was overwhelmed by the response, running out of money within 90 minutes, according to Montgomery Advertiser archives.

A councilman at the time made the observation that there were instances of people turning in as many as 20 guns at one time during that buyback, which offered $50 per gun.

No mention of the fact that these buybacks create a market for stolen guns, leading to burglary. Or that they permanently deny the police a chance to trace a gun used in a crime to . . . wait for it . . . a crime. Or that the gun buybacks have zero effect—as in none—on the incidence of crimes involving firearms.

No wonder that Montgomery is changing its gun buyback policy. And, it should be noted, tweaking the rational for the program.

Police Chief Kevin Murphy said the intent of the initiative is to drive down crime further and to get guns off the streets and especially out of the hands of juveniles.

To drive down crime “further”—as in crime is dropping for other reasons (wonder what they are). “Out of the hands of juveniles”—not criminals. How long before they justify the gun buyback as accident, rather than crime, prevention?

Meanwhile, I’d like to share a headline from that says pretty much all that needs to be said on the subject of gun buybacks: Los Angeles Gun Buy Back Program Makes Fools Feel Good.

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  1. Good write-up RF. Everyone points out how worthless the guns are, but I appreciate it when bloggers/reporters point out that these buy-backs are basically a fencing/amnesty programs for criminals. The Crimefile write-up you referenced is also a good read and, as a whole, this is one fine bit of reading you got here.

  2. I’ve been telling people for years that the only guns that are turned in are worthless crap. If you have a gun with any sort of value, you could just sell it to your local gun shop.

  3. “Momma always said, ‘Stupid is as stupid does’.” General Russell Honore, “You can’t fix stupid.” Etc., etc. Gun buy-backs are nothing but publicity stunts to appease the uninformed. Why would a hardened crimnal take fifty-bucks for his weapon-of-choice and lose his protection and ability to do business?

    This is just another waste of tax-payer dollars by politicians seeking press exposure. Why do we keep electing these idiots?

  4. A hardened criminal might turn in his weapon of choice if it meant having the police destroy evidence and getting a few exrta bucks as a bonus.

  5. Does anybody else read about this stuff and feel an urge to make a zipgun out of scrap pipe and scrap lumber, and turn it in for $50?

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