Guns for Butter

As a follow-up to my previous post, I’ve been thinking about President Obama’s recent announcement and a piece I heard on the radio last month about a gun buyback program in Los Angeles.Butter

The reporter on the radio interviewed some of the people who showed up to claim a $100 gift card for groceries ($200 if it’s an assault weapon) in exchange for their gun. One guy who drove 40 miles to cash in on his gun says  “It’s just about expediency… not about gun control…. Truthfully, I don’t think it’s an effective way to get guns off the street.”

Actually, this is exactly about gun control. If this guy was willing to drive 40 miles to convert his gun to cash, that tells me there is a strong incentive here. At the end of the day, he gets $100 worth of food, and there is one less gun available to get into the wrong hands. (Assuming $4 a gallon and 20 mpg, he spent $16 on gasoline just to get to the buyback and home again.)

Gun control is not jack-booted thugs bursting into your home to confiscate your property (to evoke one of the NRA’s more famous images), although the term “gun control” can mean different things to different people. To me, reasonable gun control is the policies and procedures used to limit the number of guns that can be used in the commission of a violent crime. Generally speaking, the guns taken in from anonymous buyback programs are destroyed. That is one less gun that can end up in the hands of a gang member, a cop-killer, or a mass murderer.

Studies indicate that there is little evidence that buybacks are an effective way to prevent gun violence. But maybe we just haven’t reached the tipping point yet. It doesn’t mean we can’t try. It’s a simple step to show that some guns can safely be taken out of circulation.

Note: I am not anti-gun (as I will explain in a future post). I am pro-reasonableness.

Note 2: This post has been updated in the fourth paragraph to reflect that perceptions differ regarding the term ‘gun control.’


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