When states and municipalities began developing “gun buyback” events, they saw them as a way to get dangerous firearms off the streets. With a strict no-questions-asked policy in place, the community was encouraged to come in, turn in their guns, and get some nominal present in return. In some cases, it’s cash, in others, it’s sneakers. In Oregon this month, it was gift cards to the Fred Meyer superstore.
What these organizers didn’t count on, however, was people using these events as a way to make a tidy profit. It was a pretty bad oversight, though, because you can always count on people to find an economic opportunity if there is one to be found. That’s what makes capitalism work! Of course, the people who laud gun buybacks probably don’t approve of capitalism in the first place.
Sponsored by Central Coast Ceasefire Oregon in conjunction with the Newport Police Department, the January 17th buyback offered $175 gift cards for so-called “assault rifles” and $25 gift cards for high-capacity magazines. Gun owners saw a system ripe for exploitation. Profit-seeking individuals flocked to the event, ready to turn in $8 magazines for $25 in Fred Meyer credit. And though Ceasefire Oregon countered criticism by saying the “turn-in does not pretend to be a market value exchange,” the egg on their faces is unmistakable.
If any greater irony is needed, Fred Meyer actually sells firearms. People were therefore able to turn in their old guns for more than they were worth, and then take their gift cards to the store for an immediate upgrade. Absolutely hilarious.
A Lesson in Liberal Failure
Of course, even without the exploit, gun buybacks are almost entirely worthless when it comes to making cities safer. Studies have shown that the buybacks do nothing to reduce crime. Why would they? After all, a criminal who intends to use their gun for crime is not going to hand it over to the police. A law-abiding gun owner who turns their firearm over because they don’t want it wasn’t going to commit a crime anyway. When you stop to think about it, the logic behind these buybacks is flawed from the start.
Because they’ve been proven to do little in the way of actually reducing crime, proponents of buybacks have insisted that there is no way to measure their “intangible” benefits. By holding these events, they say, it can encourage the community to look more closely at gun control laws. In other words, it can spark a local conversation about increasing restrictions on the Second Amendment. What more could a liberal want?
While anti-gunners wait for their buybacks to change hearts and minds, though, gun owners might as well use them to make some quick cash. Police departments and gun-control groups can have their symbolic event, and sensible Americans can fatten their wallets. Isn’t it beautiful when conservatives and liberals come together?