Sen. Ron Young had the good sense to withdraw a bill establishing a statewide “gun buyback” program, which the state police revealed would have devastating, unanticipated costs.
Perpetrators of violence weren’t about to turn in their guns, as the bill implied. The focus on hardware, rather than criminal actors, sidesteps the issue of how to deal with the root causes of crime. Government-sponsored gun buybacks have been shown to be futile and misleading. Consider the subtle way the sound bite “gun buyback” has crept into the common lexicon. It implies that somehow, government is the rightful owner of all guns, and that private ownership is but a temporary privilege.
It’s time to dispel the gun buyback myth and confront its implications. The government doesn’t buy guns back. Private citizens don’t buy guns from the government. It cannot buy them “back” because it never owned them in the first place.
Australia is touted as the model nation for its gun laws. Twenty years ago, it held a nationwide “gun buyback” that forced law-abiding gun owners to surrender guns. It encouraged compliance by paying owners for their guns, but the law-abiding citizens had no choice. They were paid for their guns from taxpayer funds. Police took their guns, offering a smile in exchange and a check from the taxpayers. As the law of unintended consequences would have it, tragically, several sites the government used to store the collected guns were burglarized, letting loose those guns into criminal hands. The government buyback led to criminals acquiring guns they otherwise would not have. Gun buybacks are compensated confiscation of private property to which government never had a rightful claim.