Shock Study: Voluntary Gun Buybacks Are Pointless


From a new working paper put out through the National Bureau of Economic Research:

Gun buyback programs (GBPs), which use public funds to purchase civilians’ privately-owned firearms, aim to reduce gun violence. However, little is known about their effects on firearm-related crime or deaths. Using data from the National Incident Based Reporting System, we find no evidence that GBPs reduce gun crime. Given our estimated null findings, with 95 percent confidence, we can rule out decreases in firearm-related crime of greater than 1.3 percent during the year following a buyback. Using data from the National Vital Statistics System, we also find no evidence that GBPs reduce suicides or homicides where a firearm was involved.

Of course, this won’t surprise anyone who’s paid attention to these programs. They collect very few guns — typically 1,000 or fewer — and by definition they collect only unwanted guns, which tend to be old or even broken. The U.S. has about as many guns as it has people, so destroying 1,000 unwanted guns isn’t going to make any meaningful difference, even in a pretty small city.

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