NBER Study: Gun Buybacks Do Not Reduce Violence or Suicides

Most gun community members already know that gun buyback programs (GBPs) are always expensive colossal failures. A new study analyzing data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System reaffirmed this belief. The study found that gun buyback programs were ineffective in preventing crimes or suicides.


The paper submitted to the National Bureau of Economic Research, however, suggested that GBPs could reduce violence if “marginal criminals who would otherwise commit firearm-related crime sell their firearms to local governments and eschew criminal activity.”


Unfortunately, criminals rarely surrender their weapons unless dumping them to safely destroy any evidence of their involvement in crimes. This is possible because most GBPs operate under a “no questions asked” policy.

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The paper quoted Professor Eugene Volokh, who suggested in 2019 that criminals would only turn in malfunctioned firearms to obtain money to buy new firearms for criminal use.


The study noted that Baltimore, Maryland launched the first GBP in 1974, collecting 13,500 firearms which cost the taxpayer $660,000.


Most people who turned in their firearms were either afraid of somebody stealing their weapons or someone else using them in anger.


However, gun-related crimes increased by 50% the following year, raising serious doubts about the effectiveness of GBPs in preventing crimes.


The Baltimore experience is hardly anecdotal. Most anti-gun local authorities continue conducting gun buybacks without considering the prohibitive costs and abysmal results in preventing gun-related crimes.


Such virtue-signaling actions allow politicians and bureaucrats to make grand political statements about “taking action to end gun violence” while achieving nothing.


However, they conveniently ignore the proven methods such as expanding mental health facilities, enforcing the existing laws, and keeping criminals behind bars.