At least two states are considering legislation that would ban local governments from sponsoring programs that would compensate gun owners for turning in their firearms.
The Michigan House passed HB 5479 this week on a 58-49 vote, and the Wyoming House passed HB28 on a 55-4 vote. Both bills shore up state preemption laws by disallowing local municipalities from hosting “gun buybacks” on the taxpayer’s dime.
Speaking in favor of Michigan’s bill, sponsor Rep. Annette Glenn argued that it’s not the place of local governments to use taxpayer money to purchase firearms from residents. She also noted that such buybacks unfairly compete with gun stores that would otherwise be able to purchase and re-sell used firearms.
“While our state and federal constitution guarantees every citizen the right to keep and bear arms, no citizen has the right to sell old firearms to a unit of government at taxpayer expense,” she said.
The Wyoming bill passed with less opposition than Michigan’s measure, but bill sponsor Rep. Tyler Lindholm argued that the preemption law would prevent future legislatures from allowing gun-friendly Wyoming to follow the lead of states like New Jersey and New York.
“This isn’t stopping a flood of gun buybacks,” Lindholm said at a committee hearing. “But at the same time, there is a state back east that was just as red as Wyoming was that today is much different than it was when they instituted gun buybacks in 2007.”
Opponents of the measure in Michigan argued that gun buybacks are an effective way to curb crime in local communities. Michigan Rep. Alex Garza also argued that the measure would unfairly exert state control over local decisions.
“To tell our local governments in many ways that we as state representatives and state senators know what’s best for their communities is simply not true,” Garza said.
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There is no evidence that gun buybacks reduce crime, suicides, or accidental shootings. Criminals don’t tend to participate, many of the firearms turned in are non-functioning, and those do work are not the type of firearms used in crimes.
As we reported in 2017, SUNY Buffalo State associate professor Scott W. Phillips looked at city crime data in relation to five gun buybacks held between 2007 and 2012 and found zero evidence that they reduce crime.
“Does it work? No,” Phillips told The Buffalo News. “Should they keep doing it? I wouldn’t bother wasting their time.”