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The folly of state-run gun buyback schemes

Guns (AP/ Contrib)

I read this story with a bit of curiosity -- Astonishing arsenal of guns collected by cops in buyback program in America's deadliest city.

According to the DailyMail, the Camden, N.J., police department was so overwhelmed by the number of residents who wished to turn in their firearms to authorities after last week's deadly Connecticut shooting, they organized a gun "buyback" program over the weekend.  In case you're not familiar, gun buyback schemes are programs designed to have firearms and other weapons turned over to officials in an attempt to reduce the number of guns in general circulation.  These programs usually also provide an opportunity for people to turn in illegal weapons without fear of prosecution.  (They should check the serial numbers -- perhaps Eric Holder & the Justice Department anonymously dropped off some of those Fast & Furious weapons that are still unaccounted for.)

As an added incentive, the "buyback" program doles out monetary rewards for each weapon turned over.

In the case of Camden's state-sponsored buyback program, police say 1,137 firearms were handed in on Friday and Saturday and a good amount of cash was handed out.  According to, those who showed up to the event were paid up to $250 per weapon with "no questions asked."

"The more we unarm ourselves then maybe we can stop some of the violence that's going on. If we don't have the firearm then we can't use the firearm," said James Green, a resident who turned over his firearm.

Now, I don't agree with Mr. Green's opinion that fewer guns = fewer crimes.  But if this were true, I could see a point to collecting rifles and handguns... But BB guns?!  What kind of threat to society do BB guns pose?!  Is it now the government's responsibility to make sure we citizens don't shoot our eyes out...?

Gun owners who showed up to the event received $25 for BB guns, $150 for revolvers, semi automatics, shotguns and rifles and $250 for assault weapons.  In addition to taking BB guns off Camden residents' hands, the state-sponsored buyback program also promoted community safety by shelling out $50 for each "inoperable firearm" -- you know, to prevent someone from throwing it at you, or something.

No word yet on what they were offering for water pistols or nerf shooters...

(Image: Hasbro)

Aside from the ridiculous idea that BB guns pose some sort of threat to society, let's get back to this bizarre idea that taxpayers should pay people to give up their guns.  If so many people were eager to hand in their guns after last week's shooting, why do taxpayers need to pay for them?  I guess I didn't realize the state of New Jersey was just a giant pawn shop.  The only difference, of course, is that these so-called public "buyback" programs aren't designed to resell the guns they take in.  Instead, nearly all of the weapons collected this weekend will be destroyed.

After the guns were collected, New Jersey's politicians paraded out the heaps of surrendered firearms in a staged photo-op to declare that they are making a difference and doing their part to prevent another mass shooting.  The problem I have with this is the sheer dishonesty --  gun buyback programs aren't meant to make the community safer; their goal is to create an anti-gun culture that even stigmatizes BB guns.

Think I'm wrong?  Check out the latest brainy idea from the Washington Post: stimulating the economy with a massive gun buyback scheme!

So imagine a $100 billion, one-time program aimed at buying back 200 million firearms at $500 a pop. We issue the payments in prepaid credit cards that expire in three months... to be sure the money is spent fast.

Presto! So long as the federal money is borrowed, we get an immediate boost to demand, jobs and growth. And with long-term interest rates at all-time lows, there’s never been a better time for the feds to overpay gun owners and get these weapons out of circulation. The president can even pitch selling a gun to Uncle Sam as a patriotic act — part of a national rethinking of our gun culture in the wake of Newtown.

Presto! Disarm your citizens and expand government handouts in one fell swoop!  It's a progressive's dream:  two birds, one stone and massive debt -- What more could one want?

I respect peoples' differing opinions on guns and I understand that some people and communities would prefer to have fewer guns in circulation -- that's their choice.  I won't plan to live in one of those places, and that's my choice.  But I think it's wrong to use taxpayer dollars to compel people to give up their guns.  The constitutional right to keep and bear arms shouldn't be for sale and the government shouldn't be in the business of paying people to opt out.

One last thing…
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