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Gun Buy Back Program Benefits Questioned

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 47 Issue: 10 Dated: October 1999 Pages: 160-162
John Hoffmann
Date Published
3 pages
Both the latest scientific research and the Police Executive Research Forum's (PERF) 233-page book titled "Under Fire" clearly support the conclusion that gun buyback programs have done nothing to reduce gun violence.
The book reviews past programs; includes interviews of participating persons; presents demographic breakdowns; describes the age, size, and type of weapons sold to the police; and discusses weapons tracing conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. One researcher addressed the argument that even old guns are at risk to be stolen and used in crimes. He theorized that the buyback programs encouraged drug addicts to commit burglaries to find guns to sell to the police. Other researchers concluded that some people were selling old guns to the police and using the cash to buy better guns. Professor Rick Rosenfeld studied 1991 and 1994 gun buybacks in St. Louis and concluded that they were ineffective, because they do not attract the types of guns used in crimes. Professor Robert Cottrol said that gun buybacks give police and politicians a chance to provide the impression of crime reduction by photo opportunity. Others who agree about the ineffectiveness of gun buyback programs include Gary Kleck, John Lott, John Eck, and David Kennedy. Eck noted that the same money spent on traffic safety, water safety, or medical research would be more effective in saving lives. Kennedy proposes that money would be better spent by focusing on the types of guns and the types of youths likely to use them, instead of on gun buyback programs. Under Fire is available from PERF at 888-202-4563. Photographs