Gun “buyback” focused on so-called assault weapons is a huge flop

I’ve long believed that the primary benefit of gun “buybacks” are the positive headlines for politicians and anti-gun activists typically generated in the local press both before and after the compensated confiscation event takes place, and one recent campaign in the Michigan town of Ludington has done nothing to disabuse me of that idea.

As the Midland Daily News recently reported, an event specifically designed to get gun owners to hand over their modern sporting rifles in exchange for a $300 gift card led to “one less assault weapon” in the area, because only a single rifle was turned in. Despite that, the local paper still delivered glowing praise for the organizer of the failed “buyback”.

For a group of Mason County residents, the Uvalde tragedy was more than a time for thoughts and prayers, it was a call to action.

On Saturday, a group hosted an anonymous and voluntary assault-style weapon buyback program at the Ludington Police Department.

It was the first local event of its kind sponsored by the Starfish Buyback Program.

Eligible weapons brought to the police department could be exchanged for a $300 “supercenter” gift card.

Karen Reader, a member of the program’s task force, reported that one assault style-weapon was voluntarily exchanged during the event.

In an email, Reader stated, “We are looking at this from the standpoint, one less assault weapon in our community.”

It appears a fitting start for a program, which according to its mission, “is based on the belief that no matter how small or futile this action may appear, any effort to save lives matters.”

I’m glad they state that they’re doing this based on their “belief” rather than any supposed facts, because the idea that gun “buybacks” actually accomplish anything of substance is a leap of faith not backed by any evidence. In fact, one recent study found that violent crime actually increased, at least in the short term, after these kinds of compensated confiscation programs were put in place.

Controlling for “demographic, socioeconomic, and policy controls measured at the county and state levels” that might affect the gun crime and gun death rates no matter what was going on with buybacks, the researchers concluded that “with 95 percent confidence, we can rule out gun crime declines in the 12 months following a [buyback] of greater than 1.3 percent and gun crime declines of greater than 2.2 percent” more than a year after they happen.

They also found that in the immediate two months following a buyback, jurisdictions saw “an increase in incidents of firearm-related crime. The 7.7 percent increase in gun crime…is relatively modest, suggesting at most, two additional gun crimes.” They saw no corresponding increase in non-gun crimes in those two months. Breaking down the distinction between violent and nonviolent gun crimes, they found no evidence that buybacks lowered either in the short or the long run.

And that’s when more than one gun is turned over. I guess the good news here is that since only one gun was handed in they’re not likely to see any increase in violent crime either.

Thankfully this initiative isn’t taxpayer-funded, so its private donors who are wasting their money on this virtue signaling effort to go after modern sporting rifles. And since they only shelled out $300 the first time around, the Starfish Buyback Program has plenty of cash on hand for their next event in case anyone actually shows up.

I wouldn’t count on that happening, but maybe after another wasted weekend the folks behind the “buyback” will get the hint that their efforts at promoting public safety are better directed elsewhere. I’m sure there are some worthy non-profits who are doing valuable work in the area that doesn’t involve demonizing commonly-owned firearms or the people who own them, and sending some extra cash their way would do far more good than the compensate confiscation program ever could.