WTVM Editorial 07/21/22: Reality Vs. Good Intentions
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Columbus Police recently held another gun buyback event, one of several in 2022.
The group “Funds for Guns” gives $250 gift cards to anyone surrendering a working firearm. The goal is to reduce the number of unwanted or illegal guns, which is a noble goal.
However, we need to share the reality about what gun buybacks can actually accomplish.
Any program that removes weapons from homes where they may not be properly secured around children is a worthy effort.
Gun buybacks do provide a responsible way to dispose of unwanted, possibly defective guns. But according to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, there is no evidence gun buybacks reduce gun crime. In fact, research shows the programs often end up targeting low-risk firearms rarely used in the commission of crimes.
In our own coverage of recent local gun buyback programs, we report the programs will lead to “a decrease in shootings and gun-related homicides”, but that is not the case.
Our coverage needs to do more than simply parrot the hoped-for goals of well-intentioned gun buybacks.
We need to report the reality.
For one thing, criminals aren’t giving up their guns.
The same report on gun buyback programs concludes that other approaches, such as safer gun storage laws that deter kids from accessing firearms, along with increasing the age for gun buyers - are much more likely to be effective in deterring gun violence.
Consider this: the Foundation for Economic Education says the first-ever gun buyback occurred in Baltimore in 1974, when citizens were paid $50 per gun.
But today, 40 years later, Baltimore has the second highest gun-related death rate in the US, according to BackgroundChecks.org.
So If we want to continue gun buyback programs to keep some guns from getting into young hands, it’s worth it.
But we also need to face reality and recognize that really reducing gun violence is much more complicated than just exchanging guns for gift cards.
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