The Los Angeles County Sheriff hosted a “Gifts for Guns” buyback program recently where residents were coaxed into giving up their weapons for gift cards. If they turned in an “assault” weapon, they got $200. Police gave out $100 to anyone who turned in a handgun, rifle or shotgun. People even got $50 for guns that didn’t work. And the whole program is anonymous. There are “no questions asked.” That means if you committed a crime with a gun, you could turn it in, get money for it, and watch the police department destroy key evidence that linked you to the crime.
The police there in Los Angeles County act like they’re doing a great public service by getting these guns off the streets. “That’s one less gun we have to face in the streets, whether it’s an operable firearm or an inoperable firearm,” one police sergeant said.
At the most recent Gifts for Guns buyback, LA residents brought in 152 firearms. According to the LA Sheriff’s Department:
“Deputies collected 152 guns, including several assault rifles, handguns, shotguns, and standard rifles. Those who turned in their guns stated that either they had no use for them, or feared the weapons could be stolen and used in violent crimes.”
They got 152 guns off the streets with this buyback. Last year, people turned in over 2,000 guns at a similar event in LA. Since this program started in 2009, over 10,000 firearms have been given up by willing citizens who value a Ralph’s gift card more than their own gun.
But if you compare these numbers with gun sales in California, it doesn’t even compare. While officials are celebrating these programs and saying that these events will make California streets safer, gun sales there have shot up significantly in the past 10 years. In 2002, 350,000 guns were sold in California, but in 2011, over 600,000 were sold. And last year, gun sales in California reached over 800,000.
What’s also telling is the overall drop in crime that corresponded to the increase in gun sales:
“Gun deaths and injuries have dropped sharply in California, even as the number of guns sold in the state has risen, according to new state data…. During that same period, the number of California hospitalizations due to gun injuries declined from about 4,000 annually to 2,800, a roughly 25 percent drop, according to hospital records collected by the California Department of Public Health. Firearm-related deaths fell from about 3,200 annually to about 2,800, an 11 percent drop, state health figures show. Most of the drop in firearm-related injuries and deaths can be explained by a well-documented, nationwide drop in violent crime. The number of California injuries and deaths attributed to accidental discharge of firearms also has fallen. The number of suicide deaths involving firearms has remained roughly constant.”
The stats show that these “Gifts for Guns” programs do nothing to curb violence. They’re little more than PR campaigns for police departments.