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LA County Sheriff Lee Baca on effectiveness of gun buyback programs

by AirTalk®

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Handguns are thrown into trash bins for melting. Wednesday's event was the fifth-ever buyback. In the past the LAPD has recovered between 1,500 and 2,000 firearms each time. Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Cerritos, has introduced a bill to Congress outlying a means to fund gun buyback efforts nationally. Since the Newtown shooting, local enforcement agencies have spearheaded buyback programs as a means to reduce the number of guns out in the population.

Incentives include cash or other forms of compensation, such as the retail gift cards handed out to buyback participants in Los Angeles. However, the financial backing to run a buyback with staff, logistics and rewards is not always easy to come by. That’s why Rep. Sanchez has called for a 10 percent tax on any sales of weapons considered concealable, like handguns, which would funnel into these programs to make them monetarily viable.

But critics of the proposal call into question the effectiveness of buybacks in general. They are quick to point out that there hasn’t been a documented drop in gun violence after these buybacks, and that the guns returned are antiques and unlikely to fall into the hands of a criminal. Still, Los Angeles law enforcement state that the collection of 2,000 firearms in December via these buybacks is a testament to their success.  

How effective are these programs? Are they making a difference? Should taxes on gun sales be used to try and curb the spreading of guns, or is that counterintuitive?

Lee Baca , Sheriff of Los Angeles County, California, just named Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriffs’ Association

Sam Paredes , Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist, Gun Owners of California

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