Gun buyback programs are under fire, says USA Today. “It’s like trying to drain the Pacific with a bucket,” says Alex Tabarrok of the Independent Institute, a think tank in Oakland. “More guns are going to flow in.” Critics complain the programs are feel-good events that do not reduce gun crimes and are abused by gun dealers seeking to unload junk merchandise at a good price. None of the guns is turned in by criminals, Tabarrok says, and many don’t even fire. “It presents an opportunity for politicians to grandstand,” he says. “This is not about being pro-gun or anti-gun. It’s about which policies actually work.”
Supporters say the programs have resulted in the turning in of thousands of weapons over the years and should continue. “That little old lady’s gun at the bottom of a closet often finds its way to somebody who’s up to no good when her house is burglarized,” Oakland police spokesman Roland Holmgren says. Last month, a buyback in Oakland brought in many guns, but thousands of dollars went to dealers and collectors who were unloading cheap or antique guns at a profit, not cutting the private arsenal of the inner city. Officials offered $250 cash for each working gun, no questions asked. The price was far greater than other cities have offered – usually $25 to $100 per gun. Other cities have been offering the buybacks, including Miami, Louisville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Chicago, Tampa, Buffalo, and Washington, D.C.