Gun buyback program

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A gun buyback program is one instituted to purchase privately owned firearms. The goal, when purchasing is done by the police, is to reduce the number of firearms owned by civilians, and provide a process whereby civilians can sell their privately owned firearms to the government without risk of prosecution. In most cases, the agents purchasing the guns are local police when purchasing firearms for the government.


In July 2007 Argentina initiated a national gun buyback program that ran until December 2008. Participation in the program was voluntary and anonymous. Individuals received between 100 and 450 pesos (or US$30 to US$145) per firearm depending on its type. All types of firearms were accepted including legal as well as illegal weapons. The 2007-2008 buyback collected a total of 104,782 firearms or around 7% of the county's estimated total number of firearms as well as 747,000 units of ammunition. Indications are that the buyback was successful in reducing the number of gun related deaths from accidents and has done quite a few to reduce the number of gun related deaths in suicides, homicides and car thefts.[citation needed]


Australia had mandatory buyback programs in 1996 and 2003. Both programs were temporary and involved compensation paid to owners of firearms made illegal by gun law changes and surrendered to the government. Bought back firearms were destroyed.

The 1996 "National Firearms Buyback Program" took 660,959 firearms out of private hands[1] comprising long guns, mostly semi-automatic rimfire rifles and shotguns as well as pump-action shotguns, and a smaller proportion of higher powered or military type semi-automatic rifles. Because the Australian Constitution requires the Commonwealth to pay "just compensation" for private property it takes over, the Government increased the Medicare levy from 1.5% to 1.7% of income for one year to finance the buyback program. The buyback was expected to cost $500 million.[2] The payments from the Commonwealth were conditional on the States and Territories introducing firearms laws and regulations consistent with the National Firearms Agreement.

In 2003 new handgun laws made illegal target pistols of greater than .38 calibre and handguns with barrels less than 120mm (semi-automatic) or 100mm (revolvers) such as pocket pistols. With an exception for persons participating in International Shooting Sport Federation events, which count as Olympic and Commonwealth Games qualifiers, to access highly specialised target pistols which fail to meet the new barrel restrictions. The Coalition of Australian Governments agreed to this restricted use on the grounds that these highly specialised target pistols are large, visually distinctive and not readily concealable due to their overall size.[3]

In 2017, Australia had a national firearms amnesty, the first since 1996, in which individuals could surrender illegal firearms for destruction.[4]


In two gun buyback programs between 2003 and 2009, the Brazilian government collected and destroyed over 1.1 million guns.[5] In 2004, the Brazilian government implemented a six-month national gun buyback program that met its stated objective of collecting 80,000 guns in less than three months. The government budgeted $3 million for the program, in which participants were given up to $100 per gun that they handed in.[6]

Part of the 2004 buyback included strengthening gun regulations such as: making it illegal to own unregistered firearms or to carry a gun outside of one's home; raising the minimum age to own a gun to 25; and imposing new penalties on those that violate these laws. One study suggests that the buyback "contributed to the observed reduction in firearm related mortality."[7]

United States[edit]

What is believed to have been the first gun buyback program was in Baltimore in 1974. Gun homicides and assaults actually rose during the two-month program, and it was deemed a failure, though no reason for the crime rate increase was given.[8] Similar programs followed in other cities, including some cities that repeated their programs. However, no evaluation of such programs were published until 1994, after three researchers analyzed a 1992 buyback in Seattle, Washington. The study found that the "effect on decreasing violent crime and reducing firearm mortality is unknown."[9]


Gun buybacks have been held in Tucson (one in 2013) and Phoenix (three in 2013).

In 2013, House Bill 2455 was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. H.B. 2455 and Arizona Revised Statute 12-945 were enacted after lobbying by the National Rifle Association and other organizations and require that firearms seized by, surrendered to or acquired by law enforcement or other government agencies may not be destroyed. Firearms acquired through programs such as gun buybacks or seized in the course of a criminal investigation that are legal for private citizens to possess must be disposed of by sale to a federal firearms licensed dealer. These statutes have raised controversy, with opponents charging that the statutes will turn gun buybacks into recycling programs. Proponents of the measures point out that firearms purchased through private buyback programs may be destroyed.[10]


On December 15, 2012, the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, an anonymous donor funded gun buyback events in Oakland and San Francisco, California. Hundreds of area residents received $200 cash for each firearm sold, "no questions asked." The guns were to be destroyed.[11] A mile-long line of cars lined up into the East Oakland church parking lot that served as that community's exchange location, prompting the private donor to double his contribution.[11]

Over 600 guns were bought between the two locations. One week later, it was learned that the event was largely funded by a medical marijuana dispensary, whose executive director said, "It's part of the philosophy we practice called capitalism with a conscience."[12]

There was a buyback program in Los Angeles that offered prepaid credit and grocery cards in exchange for guns.[13]


For two months in 1974, the Baltimore Police Department ran what is believed to have been the first gun buyback program in the U.S. Police commissioner Donald Pomerleau, not known as an advocate for strict gun control, reportedly came up with the idea while at a funeral for an officer who was shot in the line of duty. Operation PASS (People Against Senseless Shootings) paid a $50 "bounty" for surrendered guns and $100 for tips leading to the confiscation of illegal guns. Some bounty seekers attempted to game the system by buying cheap, new guns that retailed for $21.95 and then trying to turn them in. In all, the police collected 13,500 firearms - mostly handguns - at a cost of over $660,000. However, the city's already high gun homicide and assault rates actually increased during the program, for which police officials offered no explanation.[8]


From July 12–14, 2006, the Boston Police Department, with support from dozens of community and faith-based organizations, collected 1,000 firearms. Residents received $200 Target gift cards in exchange for their guns.[14]


At an August 2012 buyback, the Detroit Police Department paid $16,820 for 365 guns, including six assault weapons and a few sawed-off shotguns. The guns were accepted "no questions asked" at a church where members had collected $18,000 to help get dangerous weapons off the street. People could receive from $50 to $100 for unloaded, operational weapons. Gun-carrying protesters offered to purchase the firearms from those in line for more money than the police were offering.[15]

New Jersey[edit]

A buyback in Camden, New Jersey, in December 2012 collected 1,137 firearms.[16] In April 2013, Newark Police Department collected more than 200 firearms during a buyback funded by Jewelry for a Cause.[17] This was the first buyback in the city's history to be completely funded through private sources.[18] Such programs allow residents to turn in guns for cash.[19] In January 2014, Newark police director Samuel DeMaio said he was reviewing the implementation of an ongoing program instead of once or twice a year. Gun buybacks in several locations in Essex County, New Jersey, including Newark, collected about 1,700 guns in February 2013.[20]


The city of Seattle has experimented with Gun Buy Back Programs since the early 1990s.[21] Seattle's 1992 gun buyback was initiated in response to a string of shootings in a local neighborhood. The buyback program was watched with great interest given the local demographic and the generally positive public support for the buyback from residents of Seattle and the surrounding area. A public health survey titled "Money for Guns" was conducted and while it concluded that no statistically significant result was produced on Seattle's gun crime or gun death ratio, the report maintained that a larger buyback program would be sure to yield positive results.[22] Over 20 years later Seattle would again make headline for its bold gun buyback program in 2013, but perhaps not for the reasons the programs sponsors and organizers would have liked. While the program, could be considered a success, collecting more than 700 guns, handing out almost $70,000 in gift cards and even netting a Stinger missile launcher tube (minus the missile),[23] the program also had a widely unanticipated effect from the local gun buying community. Hundreds of gun buyers showed up to the event seeking to offer cash for valuable antiques or functioning second hand firearms. The lack of any need for background check in transactions involving private firearms sales turned the city sponsored event into an open air gun bazaar.[24] Since then Seattle has not suffered alone in its gun buyback program woes, with other cities experiencing similar problems, whether it be private sales or local gun owners taking advantage of lucrative gift card offers to unload rusted or non-functioning firearms onto the police.[25]

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand introduced a new bill[26] in March 2019 as an amendment to existing legislation with the aim of tightening gun control to increase the safety and security of New Zealanders by reducing the risk of death or injury from guns. This bill was introduced following the Christchurch mosque shootings along with a government funded Gun Buy Back program in which compensation would be paid to owners of firearms made illegal by gun law changes and subsequently surrendered.


  1. ^ Ozanne-Smith, J.; Ashby, K.; Newstead, S.; Stathakis, V.Z.; Clapperton, A. (2010). "Firearm related deaths: the impact of regulatory reform". Injury Prevention. BMJ. 10 (5): 280–286. doi:10.1136/ip.2003.004150. PMC 1730132. PMID 15470007.
  2. ^ "The Gun Buy Back Program" (PDF). (performance audit report). Commonwealth of Australia. 1997.
  3. ^ "Firearms Amendment (Prohibited Pistols) Bill" (PDF). Parliament of New South Wales. 2003. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  4. ^ "About the amnesty". Australia's National Firearms Amnesty - Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Brazil: Gun Buyback Campaign Begins". New York Times. Associated Press. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  6. ^ "Brazil gun buyback plan hits mark". BBC News. September 11, 2004. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  7. ^ David Lenis; Lucas Ronconi; Ernesto Schargrodsky (September 27, 2010). "The Effect of the Argentine Gun Buy-Back Program on Crime and Violence" (PDF) (unpublished paper). Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Parry, Robert (December 8, 1974). "Guns of Baltimore: Why Did Bounty Stop?". The Blade. Toledo, Ohio: Toledo Blade Company. Associated Press. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  9. ^ Callahan, Charles M.; Rivara, Frederick P.; Koepsell, Thomas D. (1994). "Money for Guns: Evaluation of the Seattle Gun Buy-Back Program". Public Health Reports. 109 (4): 472–477. PMC 1403522. PMID 8041845.
  10. ^ Mello, Michael (May 4, 2013). "Arizona law bans destroying guns purchased in buyback programs". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ a b Berton, Justin (December 15, 2012). "S.F., Oakland gun buyback nets hundreds". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  12. ^ Matier, Phillip; Ross, Andrew (December 22, 2012). "Gun buyback program funded by pot club". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  13. ^ Miles, Kathleen (May 14, 2012). "WATCH: Angelenos Turn In Guns For Mother's Day". Huffington Post.
  14. ^ "'Aim For Peace' Program Collected 1,000 Firearms!" (Press release). City of Boston. July 20, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  15. ^ "Protest Disrupts Detroit Gun Buyback Effort". CBS Local Media. August 30, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  16. ^ "Camden's record gun buyback". Philadelphia Inquirer. Interstate General Media. December 19, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  17. ^ Queally, James (April 30, 2013). "Newark recovers more than 200 guns during buyback event". Star-Ledger. New Jersey On-Line.
  18. ^ Milo, Paul (May 7, 2013). "Weekend Gun Buyback Nets More than 200 Weapons: Event funded entirely by 'Jewelry for a Cause'". Patch. Newark, New Jersey: Planck.
  19. ^ "Booker's gun-control initiative turns bullets into bracelets". Star-Ledger. New Jersey On-Line. January 18, 2013.
  20. ^ "Newark police force to add 100 officers this year". Newark, New Jersey: January 7, 2014. Archived from the original on February 4, 2014.
  21. ^ "Money for guns: Evaluation of the Seattle gun buy-back prog".
  22. ^ Callahan, CM; Rivara, FP; Koepsell, TD (1994). "Money for Guns". Public Health Rep. 109 (4): 472–7. PMC 1403522. PMID 8041845.
  23. ^ "SPD Blotter".
  24. ^ "Fox News".
  25. ^ "The Trace".
  26. ^ "Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill".

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