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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Trace: Experts Say Cash for Guns Dont' Work

There's an old saying that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.  That could apply to Michael Bloomberg's online anti-gun news outlet posting this story last weekend on how compensated confiscation (so-called gun buybacks) schemes are a waste of money:
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 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.”
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:
“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.

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