Effective? Gun Buyback Gets 179 Weapons Off Connecticut Streets

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Two cities in Connecticut held gun buyback programs over the weekend, resulting in 179 being taken off the streets. But many question the effectiveness of such programs.

The Connecticut Mirror reports that 119 guns were collected in Hartford and another 60 in New Haven. Guns were exchanged for gift cards to Stop & Shop or Walmart.

"The success of events like these can be measured on more than one level," said New Haven police spokesman Dave Hartman. "The first is obvious -- 60 guns have been taken out of the picture no longer to pose a threat. And their destruction will see to that."

Hartman said even a gun that is collecting dust in an attic can become deadly.

"If you lawfully have a gun in your home, that doesn't mean it can't ultimately become a threat," Hartman said. "If your home is burglarized and the gun is stolen, then that gun floats from one criminal activity to another throughout the community. That's why it's important that we accept these guns from anyone, no questions asked."

However Hartman admits many have questioned the programs.

"There have been skeptics that think programs such as this don't have as great of an impact as they really do," Hartman said. 

Even the Justice Department is dubious, writing in a 2010 guide to police:

Evaluations have shown that gun buyback programs have no observable effect on either gun crime or gun-related injury rates. They do not directly target guns that are highly likely to be used in violence, and the characteristics of the guns collected reveal little overlap between crime guns and buyback guns.

Dr. Brendan Campbell, a pediatric surgeon who headed the Hartford program, said such buybacks "need to be expanded significantly in order to impact rates of firearm violence in a meaningful way." 

In a report he co-authored, Campbell pointed out that in 2009 Connecticut buyback programs collected 167 guns. In the same year 91,602 guns were sold in the state.