The City of Buffalo’s annual gun buyback event the other day collected a near-record number of firearms. While the program probably has a minor impact on crime, it doesn’t warrant the criticism leveled each year.
Citizens turned in 760 weapons to the Buffalo Police Department, and in return were given prepaid credit cards, no questions asked. Since the program started in 2007, more than 4,400 guns have been turned in. Some were broken weapons, replicas and BB guns, but the haul also includes working handguns and assault-type rifles. It’s a program that has proven its worth.
Certainly, it’s highly unlikely that any criminal had a change of heart and turned in a weapon for the small payday. Most of those turning in firearms likely were law-abiding citizens who appreciated a legal, safe and convenient method of disposing of something they don’t need and could potentially be dangerous.
For this latest round of buybacks, the city paid out $34,340 for the 760 guns with prepaid credit cards funded through a federal program using money that was seized during drug investigations, with amounts ranging from $10 to $100.
This year a woman turned in an Uzi owned by her late husband. Her grandsons had recently expressed an interest in having it, and she was understandably relieved to get the Uzi out of the house and away from her curious grandsons.
While not collecting many illegal firearms, the gun buyback program offers peace of mind for those interested in getting rid of unwanted weapons. It also means criminals won’t get their hands on those guns in a burglary, and curious children won’t find them. How can getting hundreds of weapons beyond reach be a bad thing?
As Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “This gun buyback effort is designed to get illegal and unwanted guns off the streets so that they don’t fall into the wrong hands.”
The gun buyback program probably won’t take a huge bite out of crime. But even a small reduction is welcome. Add to that the peace of mind it affords to city residents, and the fact that it’s funded by criminals themselves, and this program is comfortably in the “win” column.