Op-Ed: Buybacks of weapons well-meant, but futile

Will wonders never cease? In a recent op-ed, the Columbus Dispatch Metro Columnist Mike Harden did something few journalists are ever willing to do. He told gun ban extremists they are wasting their time.

The column begins like this:

    In the heady days of the gun buyback initiatives of the 1990s, two of the most bizarre programs were "Guns for Buns" in Lexington, Ky., and "Buns for Guns" in St. Louis.

    The former offered $100 Mc-Donald’s gift certificates to people surrendering guns to the police, perhaps trading murder for morbid obesity.

    The "Buns for Guns" undertaking involved a St. Louis strip club that offered "table dances" in exchange for firearms, thus giving a whole new meaning to Mae West’s old pistol-orpriapism query.

    The question of the value of gun-buyback programs arose recently when Columbus reader Steve Gill suggested resurrecting — in light of the city’s current homicide count (94 so far this year) — the 1994 project launched by then-Mayor Greg Lashutka.

After providing details of the program from 1994, Harden continued:

    I doubt that Mr. Gill would be coming to me today for editorial support if gun-buyback programs actually made a significant dent in the local supply or crimes related to guns.

    Consider the summary results of three studies on buybacks:

    • The Violence Policy Center, Washington, D.C.: "Gun buybacks are well-intentioned, but they take a lot of time and money and effort that probably could be better spent."

    • The National Institute of Justice, Washington, D.C.: "There has never been an instance where gun crime went down that was attributable to (a gun buyback) program."

    • Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, University of Wisconsin Law School: "Either police aren’t fully aware of the research that demonstrates the ineffectiveness of gun buybacks or, optimistically, they are using it as a symbolic effort to highlight the gun-violence problem."

Later in the article, Harden gets to the crux of the issue (Click on the "Read More..." link below for more)...

Again, from the op-ed:

    Though gun buybacks are clearly of highly dubious value, few want to rain on the well-intentioned, if naive, parade they represent.

    Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman reacted to Gill’s suggestion: "I am very interested in hearing that a citizen wants to help, and we would be supportive of any new ideas or buyback efforts to get people to turn in weapons."

    Whether "supportive" could translate to dollars in a cashstrapped city might be another matter.

    Gill suggested that local retailers might pitch in with gift certificates. The guns gathered would be destroyed.

    The whole thing reminds me of a cartoon I saw a decade ago in which one Old Testament type was lamenting to another:

    "This ‘sword’ thing just isn’t working. We’re having a rash of plowshare murders."

Just as Mr. Harden is finally holding anti-gunners to account on their failed 20th century ideas for gun buy-back programs, it is time the media also hold to account gun ban extremists on their rhetoric regarding concealed handgun laws.

Hearings begin today on HB347, a sweeping firearms law reform bill that would address some of the most egregious problems with current Ohio law. We've already seen early signs that she plans to recycle her same old rhetoric, despite having been proven wrong for the past 18 months. When she does, will Mike Harden and his collegaues live up to their responsibility and call her on it?

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