In the wake of the Newtown massacre, cities across the United States are funding gun-buybacks in a stated effort to get “guns off the street.” In reality, these efforts are just for show, typically bringing in just a few dozen to a few hundred weapons, many of which are old and inoperable.
Given the enormous number of guns in the U.S., the minuscule number of buyback guns will likely have no statistical impact on gun crime rates. Moreover, many of the folk turning in the guns and collecting gift cards or other trackable means of payment, are unlikely to have criminal records and/or a propensity for violence.
Nevertheless, the photo-op buybacks are providing communities with at least one tangible benefit: the opportunity for 2nd Amendment afficionados to attend the buybacks and bid against the police for seized guns.
This happened at a Tuscon buyback earlier this month as well as the recent Seattle buyback this past Saturday. With respect to Seattle, gun buyers were especially active:
Officers stood by as makeshift gun shows sprang up on the sidewalks, just steps away from the buyback tents, as gun enthusiasts and collectors waved wads of cash for the guns being held by those standing in line.
“I’d prefer they wouldn’t sell them,” [Seattle Police Chief] Diaz said of the people in line making deals with the gun buyers.
Some people saw the event as a way to make some money while others came in the spirit of a gun-buyback program, he said.
Albert Coburn, of Seattle, was standing in line with two rifles from his father, weapons that he had no use for. “Instead of selling them, I’d like to see them get out of circulation.”
Some in the long lines lost patience and gave in to the people who surrounded the parking lot with signs saying “Cash for guns.”
One man jumped out of his vehicle as he was waiting in bumper-to-bumper traffic at the buyback and asked how much the gun enthusiasts and collectors were willing to pay for his three guns. He pocketed $500.
Some might argue that these gun-buybacks are not for show but are instead being used to normalize the American people to the concept of the government taking their guns for payment. Whether you believe that or not, there is no denying that the buybacks have – so far – been utter failures from the government’s perspective, less so from the private buyer’s perspective.