In news reports about the buyback event, Tampa police stressed the impact the buyback would have on preventing crime in the future. In the words of Janelle McGregor, a spokesperson for the department, “That’s 521 firearms that will now be destroyed and never get into the hands of a criminal.”That's quite an admission for a gun ban group. If a gun ban advocate can admit such schemes have no impact on crime, you would think police chiefs who push for compensated confiscation events would find a better use of taxpayer money. According to one policy advisor, most police chiefs who push "buy backs" know they don't reduce crime:
That kind of endorsement is common from law enforcement officials, yet it runs counter to the facts: There’s no evidence that gun buybacks actually curb gun violence. Though the events have become ubiquitous in the U.S. since the ’90s, they’re coupled with a number of academic studies that pointedly demonstrate the ways that buybacks fail to reduce crime. “[Studies show that] the guns you get back are nonfunctioning, that we’re paying money and we’re not getting real benefits,” Ralph Fascitelli, the president of Washington CeaseFire, a Seattle-based gun safety organization, tells The Trace. “They’re just feel-good things that don’t do much real good.”
“Experienced police officers will have a sense that [gun buybacks] are likely to be of marginal value,” says Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. “I think that’s safe to say that the primary function of a gun buyback program is to do something symbolic.”
So, what does work? Scott recommends more effective efforts to reduce crime like Boston's “focused deterrence” - a strategy developed by John Jay College criminologist David Kennedy, that requires coordination between law enforcement and social-service providers to objectively identify the most dangerous offenders in a community, and make an effort to routinely check those individuals for firearms.