Would you spend $500 for a gun? It depends on the gun right? Let’s rephrase the question. Would you pay $500 for a gun, sight unseen, condition and working order unknown? Of course not, and to be fair, the City of Maryland didn’t either. However, $500 is what the math worked out to for a bunch of guns mostly from elderly widows, or guns with little actual value anyway.
Baltimore Maryland spent a reported $250,000 dollars to purchase over 500 unwanted guns in a “buyback” program. Buyback is an Orwellian propaganda term. You cannot buy back things you never owned in the first place. The Baltimore program was “successful” in that it collected over 500 firearms to be destroyed. It “worked” for two basic reasons.
First, the buyback offered more money than most of the guns were worth on the open market. Second, the state of Maryland has made it difficult to buy and sell guns legally and privately. There was little competition for the few guns brought in that were worth more than the government was offering. The inconvenience factor of finding a legal buyer, gave incentive to people who wanted to dispose of a gun.
Most of the guns turned in are those seldom used in crime. Paying $200 for semi-automatic .22 rifles that cost $99 and less when new (and are still widely available for less than $150) is stupid and counterproductive. One gun collector in a wheelchair brought in a rusty, old, bolt shotgun barreled action. It might be worth $10 at a gun show. He got $100.
People were paid $100 for revolvers that were turned in. Most of those pictured were worth $50 or less on the market. Several were inexpensive RG models that cost less than $30 when new. One 80-year-old woman brought in a revolver worth maybe $30. She will get $100 for it. Many of the people bringing in guns were older women who did not want to deal with the firearms. It is a common story. The husband dies, and the widow gets rid of the guns. Sometimes collections worth tens of thousands of dollars are given to police, simply to get rid of them.
Most of the guns were inexpensive, older .22 rifles and inexpensive old shotguns. Many of them seem of doubtful utility or reliability. The were likely hunting guns that belonged to the grandparents of the current Baltimore residents.
What does the City of Baltimore get for its quarter million dollar investment? Camera time on the news, and virtue signaling that “guns are bad.”
One woman was frank about her motivation in turning in her inexpensive 9mm. The woman is going to use the $200 to purchase a bigger, better gun.
The “buyback” paid out $25 for magazines that held more than 10 rounds for rifles, or 20 rounds for pistols. Few pistol magazines hold more than 20 rounds, and they are expensive. Many standard rifle magazines hold more than 10 rounds, and they are cheap. They can be had for $10-15, as low as $4.99 on the used and surplus market. The program would only pay for two magazines per person.
Numerous academics have pointed out how ineffective these programs are. From Freakonomics:
When it comes to gun buybacks, both the theory and the data could not be clearer in showing that they don’t work. The only guns that get turned in are ones that people put little value on anyway. There is no impact on crime. On the positive side, the “cash for clunkers” program is more attractive than the gun buyback program because, as long as they are being driven, old cars pollute, whereas old guns just sit there.
It seems unlikely the propaganda from the program will be effective.
How will future historians treat such programs. Will they see them as sacrificial rituals to the god of “Whirled Peas”? Some say it is better for politicians who want the population disarmed, to spend this money on foolish programs, than to be used on enforcement of gun bans. It probably does not matter. To the politicians, it is other people’s money, and they do not see it as running out.
Do you think gun buybacks work? What alternatives would you suggest? Share your answers in the comment section.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten
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