By Larry Keane
New York City has a violent crime problem and accidental Mayor Bill de Blasio is shuffling deck chairs in attempts to address it. After proposing to cut $1 billion from New York City’s law enforcement budget just as crime skyrocketed, he’s throwing taxpayer money at failed policies. That includes gun buyback programs that don’t reduce violent crime and waste money. Worse, they give a false impression to the public that something effective is being done to reduce the criminal misuse of illegally possessed firearms.
Criminals Taking to the Streets
New York’s crime problem started much earlier but was literally set on fire with the coronavirus response. New York was quick to release criminals from prisons. The result? In one instance, more than 1,500 criminals were back on the streets. Many were re-arrested for committing more crimes. Add to that the rising violence from riots and looting and the city has seen some of the worst violent crime surges. The violence was exemplified when a father was gunned down in broad daylight while walking in a crosswalk hand-in-hand with his seven-year-old daughter.
Mayor de Blasio watched it all and heard the “defund the police” cries. He cut a billion dollars from the budget of the men and women risking their lives to keep the cities safe. “I’m excited to say we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution,” the mayor said while announcing the cuts. Now, he wasting what’s left.
Brooklyn hosted a gun “buyback” event. Men and women could trade in their firearms and receive $25 bank cards for rifles and shotguns and $200 per each handgun or so-called “assault rifle.” This was the first buyback held in Brooklyn since 2016, when 60 firearms were recovered. This year’s event netted 33.
Leaving police departments without necessary resources to address violent crime leads to unserious and ineffective attempts, like “buybacks.” Studies show they fail in their goal and criminals are largely not the ones participating. A significant majority of law enforcement officials rate them as ineffective in reducing violent crime. On gun buybacks one researcher, Scott W. Phillips, an associate professor of criminal justice, put it bluntly. “Does it work?… No. Should they keep doing it? I wouldn’t waste my time.”
If Mayor de Blasio needs more feedback he can look to the Obama Administration, which concluded buyback programs are ineffective in its National Institute of Justice memo.
The simple reason these don’t work is criminals aren’t turning in their guns. The guns that are turned in are broken or in disrepair from years of neglect and those that are collected are never tested against any ballistics databases to verify if they were used in a crime.
This playing fast and loose with taxpayer money isn’t limited to mayors tanking in their own cities. Democratic nominee Joe Biden embraced a national mandatory gun buyback program as part of their antigun platform. Together with Mayor de Blasio, these unserious officials continue to bandage over serious issues and push gun control policies that only infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
The firearm industry has Real Solutions® that work with law enforcement. These initiatives have proven successful at keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and reducing unintentional firearm accidents. These are initiatives such as Don’t Lie for the Other GuyTM , Operation Secure Store® and Project ChildSafe® that are working. The same can’t be said for the “buyback” window dressing that doesn’t address the problem of crime.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.