Years of research show that gun buybacks don’t increase public safety, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. Still, Cincinnati is holding three of them soon anyway. Researchers say buybacks, despite their popularity, are among the least effective ways to reduce gun violence. They say targeted police patrols, intervention efforts with known criminals and, to a lesser extent, tougher gun laws all work better than buybacks.
The biggest weakness of buybacks, which offer cash or gift cards for guns, is that the firearms they usually collect are insignificant when measured against the arsenal now in the hands of citizens. The government estimates there are more than 310 million guns in the U.S. today, nearly enough to arm every man, woman and child in the nation. “They make for good photo images,” said Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem Oriented Policing, based at the University of Wisconsin's law school. “But gun buyback programs recover such a small percentage of guns that it's not likely to make much impact.” Buyback programs tend to attract people who are least likely to commit crimes and to retrieve guns that are least likely to be used in crimes.