6/00 The Fraud Of Gun Buy-backs

The Fraud of Gun “Buy-Backs”
Larry Pratt

Of all the ridiculous schemes put forth by the gun-grabbers, few are more expensive and fraudulent than the so-called “buy-back” scam where police departments pay people — usually with our hard-earned Federal tax dollars — to turn in weapons, no questions asked.

President Clinton is, of course, an enthusiastic supporter of this wrong-headed idea. Ditto, the lady who organized the Million Mom March. And now a “buy-back” has been held in Washington DC.

A press release from the DC Metropolitan Police Department announces, proudly, that during its recent 3-day “buy-back” 1,787 firearms were purchased at a total cost of $141,000. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey says this “buy-back” (an absurd name since his Department is “buying-back” nothing; they never had these guns) will “significantly reduce” the likelihood that some minor disputes will escalate into shootings and homicides.

But, even he admits, in this release: “We will never know for certain just how many lives will be saved by getting these firearms off our streets and out of our homes.”

Indeed. In fact, even the ultra-liberal, rabidly anti-gun, vehemently anti-Second Amendment Washington Post (5/19/2000) has run an article quoting experts as saying that “buy-backs” have had little impact on crime.

This “Post” article says: “Studies show that [surprise!] lawbreakers rarely surrender their weapons to buyback programs and that many people who do sell their guns have other firearms at home, or soon buy new ones.”

The Post quotes Garen Wintemute, director of the anti-self defense Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis, as saying, in part, about “buy-backs”: “The guns that are removed from the community do not resemble the guns used in crimes in that community. There has never been any effect on crime results seen.” (Emphasis mine.) Still, the President’s administration has set aside $15 million to be thrown down the “buy-back” rat hole.

When we called the DC Police Department and asked spokesman Joe Gentile if he knew of any evidence that “buy-backs” actually reduced crime, and we questioned the wisdom of this program, these were, obviously, not his favorite questions. Here’s the way it went.

Q: What evidence is there that these buy-backs have any impact as far as reducing crime?

A: Don’t know. Gotta check because I don’t know if they’ve run all the guns through yet. One of the reasons we did it was to safeguard people, to get guns out of their house, to prevent the possible death of someone during an argument or accidental discharge. This wasn’t just to fight crime.

Q: But some of these buy-back studies show that those who do turn in guns don’t turn in all of their guns. They still have a gun or guns at home.

A: They might not. We don’t know. We don’t know. But it’s an opportunity to allow people to get rid of weapons that are lying around their house.

Q: But you don’t really believe that criminals turn in their best gun or guns do you?

A: I’m not saying that. I’m saying I can’t tell you what’s behind someone’s door. So, I won’t get into that….

Q: Do the people turning in the guns you buy have to prove that they actually own the guns?

A: No.

Q: Then how do you know these guns came from anybody’s house?

A: That’s not the point. There’s no questions asked.

Q: But, those who turned in guns could have stolen them.

A: Are you calling to get into a debate with me or to ask me a question?

Q: You just said that one purpose of your buy-back was to get guns out of the houses of some people. But, if you don’t ask for proof of ownership, how do you know they brought the gun or guns from their home?

A: I didn’t say where they were bringing the guns in from. Those are your words. I said some of these people don’t want the weapons lying around in their homes.

Q: Right. But, I’m saying that, in actual fact, you don’t know if any of the guns turned in were from anybody’s home because you don’t know, and don’t ask, where they got the guns!

A: No, I don’t.

Q: Why would no questions be asked? This would seem to be an incentive for people to steal guns and sell them to you.

A: Because that’s the way the law is.

Well, now. If Gentile did check about “buy-backs” reducing crime, he never got back to us. But, incredibly, he is right about the law.

He sent us the text of a DC law (Firearms Control, 6-2375) which says that if a person voluntarily and peaceably delivers and abandons to the Chief any firearm “such delivery shall preclude the arrest and prosecution of such a person…. [and] no person who delivers and abandons a firearm… shall be required to furnish identification, photographs, or fingerprints.”

Yikes! This is crazy!

Can you imagine any program nuttier than one in which guns are purchased — no questions asked — in a city full of violent criminals, and no one turning in a gun is asked to prove that he even owns the gun! This is truly insane!

DC Mayor Anthony Williams says his town’s “buy-back” program is another “important step” toward the goal of reducing “the scourge of gun violence.” And Andrew Cuomo, Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development, says this “buy-back” will make Washington DC “safer.”

But, these assertions are hogwash. Instead of calling their “buy-back” program by the ludicrous name of “Operation Save A Life,” it should be known as “Operation Lie To The People And Waste The Taxpayers’ Money.”

Finally, there is no answer from the “buy back” crowd to those who could have been one of the nearly 7000 people a day who use a gun in self defense but could not — because they were scammed out of their safety or their life for a measly $50.