Whenever law enforcement agencies offer buyback schemes, you can be assured that someone will turn up with a serious piece of weaponry. The latest LAPD event was not exception – amongst the weapons turned in were Uzis, AK-47s, and an anti-tank rocket launcher.
The event happens every year, but some of the weapons handed in had sat in people’s houses for many years before being turned in. In a state known for its draconian gun control laws, it is perhaps explicable that people had kept their weaponry well hidden until recently.
Given the serious cost of some of the weapons being handed in, the incentives seem surprisingly low. A $100 or $200 Target gift card is the only recompense people get for handing over their weaponry. That said, many of the weapons handed in have long been illegal in the state of California, and so are essentially unusable for the responsible gun owner.
It’s also true, as law enforcement officials have pointed out, that even unused family heirlooms can be dangerous. Guns are amongst the most commonly stolen items during home robberies, and can find their way into the hands of criminals in this way, no matter what precautions owners take to protect them.
Since the buybacks in California were incepted in 2009, more than 16,000 guns have been turned in. The guns are then melted down, and the resulting metal is sold as a contstruction material. The buyback scheme is just one part of a push in the state to remove guns from the street – an intitiative that has removed over 20,000 weapons from the street in the past five years, according to the LAPD.
It will not surprise many of our readers to note that there is little evidence that buyback schemes like this reduce gun crime. This is because, to make a slightly obvious point, those who voluntarily hand over their guns to the police are not those who use them to commit violent crimes.
That said, there has been in a decrease in gun violence in LA over recent years, and the LAPD put this down, at least in part, to their efforts to reduce the number of guns in circulation. Limiting the supply of weapons to the black market can, in itself, increase the difficulty and cost of criminals getting their hands on serious weaponry.
The guns handed in this year came with a wide range of back-stories. One had been bought back from WW2, others were turned in by family members after their owners went to prison.Regarding the rocket launcher, we are sorry to say that we cannot find any further information as to its provenance or ownership.
In our opinion, buyback schemes like this offer a good service, but do very little to achieving their stated aims. Whilst many people value the chance to hand in firearms that may have been gathering dust for many years, to try and link this to reduced gun violence is a bit dubious.