Law Enforcement Needs to Stop Lying About Gun Buybacks

Law Enforcement Needs to Stop Lying About Gun Buybacks

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
I don’t actually care if someone wants to get rid of a gun at a buyback event or not. I think the term “buyback” is stupid, mostly because no one is buying anything back from anyone, but other than that, do what you want with your guns so long as you don’t break the law.

If buybacks were framed as just an easy way to get rid of a gun you don’t want anymore without concern for who would get it later, I don’t think I’d gripe that much. Some people do have concerns that their gun might end up in the wrong hands, even if that concern is pretty minimal.

But the issue is that they’re not framed that way, and it’s the dishonesty that I think bothers me so much.

Take this buyback in Maryland, for example.

Piles among piles of unwanted firearms were zip-tied and loaded into Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) vans Saturday during a gun buyback event in Germantown, Maryland.

The United Church of Christ of Seneca Valley organized the event as part of the Washington D.C.-area Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention Network in conjunction with the MCSO and the State’s Attorney’s office.

We know there’s violence present in our community,” said Holly Jackson, pastor of the Seneca Valley church. “We want to make a difference around gun violence.”

County officials told WJLA that around 150 firearms were turned in, including ghost guns and some explosives.

Community members were able to surrender firearms in exchange for grocery store gift cards: functioning handguns, rifles, and shotguns were worth $100 and functioning military assault-style weapons and privately manufactured firearms (“ghost guns”) were worth $200

Given the cost of food right now, that’s a welcome message for people,” said Jackson.

MCSO says all of the guns turned in will be completely destroyed by the Sheriff’s Office, ensuring they’ll never be fired again.

“It allows for more peace in our community and the ability for people to feel safe,” said Jackson

Except that there’s absolutely no evidence that it does.

That’s not just me arguing that, either. Even The Atlantic, which has a strong anti-gun tendency, acknowledges that gun buybacks don’t actually work. That was far from the only case of the media acknowledging what we already knew.

And seriously, why would it?

The best-case scenario is that buybacks allow people to sell guns that might end up stolen or sold to the wrong person. However, most people who aren’t gun people tend to unload firearms by taking them to a gun store or pawn shop. There, a would-be buyer has to go through the entire process of verifying they’re not a felon, meaning it’s less likely that the gun is going to a criminal.

Sure, there are the occasional straw buys, but those are going to happen regardless of whether that person’s guns are in the store or not.

Gun people might sell to other gun people, but they’re also disinclined to unload their guns at a buyback for a $100 gift card when they know they can get three to four times that, if not more in cold, hard cash.

Law enforcement, however, keeps trying to push these buybacks as somehow necessary for public safety, that this use of money will somehow take guns out of criminal hands when literally all the evidence out there says otherwise.

They need to stop lying to people about this.