But in public policy, results matter. A new law or program can have the finest intentions in the world, but if it doesn’t work, it should be abandoned.
And virtually no gun policy has less proven success than the gun buy-back. Still, there’s a push on for such a program at a massive national level.
“A letter from 40 members of Congress and directed toward House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded a national gun buyback program yesterday,”
Breitbart.com reported on Wednesday.
The letter said, “Adding $200 million to the final compromise on the fiscal cliff could remove as many as one million guns from our streets.”
And doing so would be a “simple, immediate step we can take to assure the public we are committed to taking meaningful action.”
The letter follows a similar suggestion from Sen. Diane Feinstein last week.
The problem is gun buy-backs fail to produce solid, measurable results.
This is the L.A. Times talking here — no friend to the NRA. Yet it applied a little critical thinking to the issue, and seemed surprised by what it found.
“It’s estimated that there are about 258 million privately owned firearms in the United States (or nearly one gun for every American citizen), and there are about 3.8 million people in the city of L.A.,” it reported. “So it’s safe to say that there are millions of guns hereabout. The 1,700 turned in Saturday did not significantly reduce the number [even in Los Angeles]. What’s more, the guns that tend to be surrendered are very seldom the ones used by criminals. They are usually old, broken weapons turned in by older people who would rather have a $100 gift certificate to buy groceries (the premium offered Saturday to those who brought in guns) than a rusted revolver.”
The federal government knows this. The National Academy of Sciences studied the issue, and reported “the theory underlying gun buyback programs is badly flawed, and the empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs.”
Yet perhaps the good publicity is too hard to resist — and the real answers too difficult to contemplate.
That’s why a national gun buy-back program will likely pass.
And it will have no effect on tragedies such as Newtown.