The capacity on the part of liberals to devise outlandish policies intended to combat crime is rivaled in stupidity only by their propensity to avoid true solutions. Gun control has always been the pet panacea of those who possess neither the desire nor the backbone to confront the true and obvious cause of gun violence: criminals and a lenient justice system. Rather than confront this bane head on, gun controllers have striven to crack down on their favorite whipping boys, the guns themselves.
Every time another maniac opens fire, the calls goes out for stricter gun control. Gun controllers, however, never quite get around to explaining how the previous 20,000 gun control laws they enthusiastically enacted failed to stop the most recent tragedies. The shootings in the Los Angeles Jewish center several years ago and the Texas shooting in a Christian church would not — and could not — have been prevented by existing gun control laws. Nevertheless, the reaction has been typical and predictable.
In the short time in between those shootings, President Clinton latched onto and actually expanded what is probably the nuttiest (although not the most harmful) policy that is aimed at guns rather than criminals. In what is generally referred to as “gun buyback” programs, the president took a page from local communities around the country and announced a $15 million federal plan which was to assist local authorities in purchasing firearms in and around public housing projects.
In the past, gun buyback programs work like this: police in a local neighborhood or precinct, often with the assistance of misguided community organizations, announce that they want people to turn in their illegal (or legal) guns. A period of amnesty is offered, whereby anyone who owns a weapon illegally will not be punished or prosecuted if they hand in the gun within the allotted time frame. No questions asked. Sometimes, the buyback program operates under the condition of anonymity of the illegal gun owner. (There is no amnesty for crimes committed with guns.)
In exchange for turning in their guns, people will receive a determined amount of cash. Sometimes, they are offered basketball tickets or some other desirable item. Amidst great hoopla, the program is announced under the guise of an “anti-gun” program. Since people will be turning in their guns, and guns cause crime, ipso facto, crime will be reduced.
The only effect that these ridiculous programs have on criminals is that certain robberies may be delayed while the muggers try to stop laughing. The entire program is predicated on the nonsensical notion that criminals are the ones that turn in their guns.
That an IQ above 10 could actually take such logic seriously is one of the great mysteries of life. But, alas, some people actually purport to believe it.
The Clinton program was aimed at reducing gun violence in some of the most notoriously dangerous locations in America. It gave local police departments up to $500,000 each to purchase guns for a “suggested price” of $50. “Every gun turned in through a buyback program means potentially one less tragedy,” Clinton profoundly exclaimed.
Clinton, who certainly inspired confidence when he asserted that the guns were to be destroyed upon receipt by the police, calculateed that the new program would bring in roughly 300,000 guns. The federal money would go to individual public housing authorities which would coordinate plans with local police. The Clinton administration came up with the novel idea that gift certificates for goods or services be handed out instead of cash. Very appealing to the neighborhood mugger.
Naturally, when reality actually manages to break through the clouds of deception, the facts reveal that there is no evidence whatsoever that crime has been reduced in locales where gun buyback programs have been enacted. This is in line with the fact that crime does not go down in areas which establish more gun control laws. In fact, the only places where crime decreases are where right-to-carry laws are passed — laws which make it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons for self-protection.
The Associated Press reported that the thousands of weapons turned in through buyback programs over the years hardly made a dent in the 220 million to 250 million guns in circulation. The people who turn in the guns are undoubtedly comprised of those not committing crimes and people who simply want to get rid of their guns anyway. Obviously, criminals who make their living breaking laws with guns are not interested in surrendering the tools of the trade for a gift certificate.
But public policy is rarely based on logic and common sense.