Gun buyback program

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A gun buyback program is one instituted to purchase privately owned firearms. Compensation is usually paid in the form of cash or gift cards. 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 to 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.[1]


Main article: Gun laws in Australia

Australia had buyback schemes in 1996 and 2003. Both schemes were compulsory, 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 Scheme" took 660,959 firearms out of private hands[2] 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 scheme. The buyback was expected to cost A$500 million.[3] The payments from the Commonwealth were conditional on the States and Territories introducing firearms laws and regulations consistent with the National Firearms Agreement, though some inconsistencies remain. No licences for self-defense are allowed under these laws.

The 2003 handgun buyback resulted in about 50,000 licensed target pistols being bought back. 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. As a result of consultation with Australian peak sporting groups an exception was granted for pistols greater than .38 calibre used for Handgun Metallic Silhouette and Western Action competitions, but not for the popular sport of IPSC.[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."[1]

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.[7] 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."[8]


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 Janice 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.[9]


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.[10] This program garnered considerable controversy, as the "no questions asked" policy encouraged theft in order for criminals to obtain cash for guns[citation needed]. Criminals also saw these buybacks as a simple way to dispose of guns that were used in crimes[citation needed]. Organizers reported crowds two times larger than expected[citation needed]. 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. [10]

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."[11]

There was a buyback program in Los Angeles that offered prepaid credit and grocery cards in exchange for guns.[12]


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 of 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.[7]


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.[13]


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 those in line more money not to turn in their firearms.[14]

New Jersey[edit]

A buyback in Camden, New Jersey, in December 2012 collected 1,137 firearms.[15] In April 2013, Newark Police Department collected more than 200 firearms during a buyback funded by Jewelry for a Cause.[16] This was the first buyback in the city's history to be completely funded through private sources.[17] Such programs allow residents to turn in guns for cash.[18] 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.[19]


  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "The Gun Buy Back Scheme" (PDF). (performance audit report). Commonwealth of Australia. 1997. 
  4. ^ "Firearms Amendment (Prohibited Pistols) Bill" (PDF). Parliament of New South Wales. 2003. 
  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. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Mello, Michael (May 4, 2013). "Arizona law bans destroying guns purchased in buyback programs". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ a b Berton, Justin (December 15, 2012). "S.F., Oakland gun buyback nets hundreds". San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Communications). Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  11. ^ Matier, Phillip; Ross, Andrew (December 22, 2012). "Gun buyback program funded by pot club". San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Communications). Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  12. ^ Miles, Kathleen (May 14, 2012). "WATCH: Angelenos Turn In Guns For Mother's Day". Huffington Post. 
  13. ^ "'Aim For Peace' Program Collected 1,000 Firearms!" (Press release). City of Boston. July 20, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Protest Disrupts Detroit Gun Buyback Effort". CBS Local Media. August 30, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Camden's record gun buyback". Philadelphia Inquirer (Interstate General Media). December 19, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  16. ^ Queally, James (April 30, 2013). "Newark recovers more than 200 guns during buyback event". Star-Ledger (New Jersey On-Line). 
  17. ^ 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). 
  18. ^ "Booker's gun-control initiative turns bullets into bracelets". Star-Ledger (New Jersey On-Line). January 18, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Newark police force to add 100 officers this year". Newark, New Jersey: January 7, 2014. Archived from the original on February 4, 2014. 

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