City of Tucson gun buy back on Tuesday


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

It must be an election year for Tucson City Council. Media darling Ward 6 Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik is sponsoring a gun buy back program in the City of Tucson on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. This P.R. stunt may make some people feel better, but Gun Buybacks Are Mostly a Waste of Time and Money, Experts Say:

[H]ere’s one [idea] that even the staunchest gun-control experts say might be a complete waste of time: gun buybacks.

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On the surface, such programs seem simple. Residents can hand their weapons over to the city in exchange for cash or even gift certificates to grocery stores. The guns are then destroyed. That’s how it’s worked in places like Bridgeport, Conn., and San Diego, both of which have broken records for the number of guns collected and money doled out just since Sandy Hook.

If sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is, experts say.

The people most likely to commit crimes are also the people least likely to be turn in their weapons, research has found. And the highest-risk weapons are the least likely to be traded in at buybacks.

“The theory underlying gun buyback programs is badly flawed,” a 2004 report by the National Research Council found. The study pointed out that replacement guns can be easily found for guns turned in for cash, and the ones that are turned in are often old or malfunctioning.

A Los Angeles Times op-ed called gun buybacks little more than a public relations move: “Really cutting down on the bloodshed will require meaningful legislation and tougher enforcement. That’s harder to pull off than a gun buyback program: Good PR almost invariably is simpler than good policy.”

And successful buyback programs can be extremely expensive for local governments. “Let’s say you pay $100 per gun, and you get 2,000 guns,” says Jon Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “That’s $200,000—would it be money better spent elsewhere?”

Even so, Nearly $7,000 raised for Tuesday's gun buyback:

City Councilman Steve Kozachik's somewhat controversial gun buyback has been set for Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Residents looking to part with an unwanted firearm in exchange for a $50 Safeway gift card will be able to make the swap at the Tucson Police Department's midtown substation, 1100 S. Alvernon Way.

Kozachik has raised close to $7,000 in private donations for the buyback.

Once the guns are collected, TPD will process them and dispose of them, Kozachik said.

The idea behind the buyback is to give people who are uncomfortable with a gun they own an opportunity to get rid of it safely, he said.

And then there are the "happiness is a warm gun" fetishists who believe that they have the right to dictate to other individuals how they may dispose of their unwanted guns.

Todd Rathner, a member of the National Rifle Association's national board of directors, said an amendment to a state law last year prohibits police departments from destroying firearms. Rathner said the law requires departments to sell every firearm they take in to an authorized seller once it's established the guns are neither stolen nor have been used in the commission of a crime.

"The NRA maintains that the city of Tucson must not destroy any of the guns they receive during the buyback," Rathner wrote in an email. "We will take action to assure that the city follows state law and sells any guns they receive to an authorized dealer for resale to the public. If the city refuses to comply with state law, we will take it up with Attorney General (Tom) Horne to assure the city does comply."

City Attorney Mike Rankin disagreed with Rathner's interpretation of the law and gave the green light for TPD to destroy the guns received during the buyback.

"I advised there are no legal impediments to allowing gun owners to turn in, voluntarily, their own weapons," Rankin said.

Rankin said the law applies to confiscated weapons, not guns willingly turned in by their owners.

"Nothing in the legislative record gives any indication that the discussion about the statute had anything to do with voluntary buyback programs," Rankin said.

Kozachik said he doesn't understand the intense opposition.

"This is the voluntary surrender of unwanted firearms. It's not the desecration of holy icons, as some evidently perceive it," Kozachik said.

He said the hostility toward something as simple as a gun buyback proves it's time for Tucson to have a serious discussion about firearms and their role in our culture.

"The extremely over-the-top reactions to this idea make the point better than I could have, that this community absolutely needs to have this conversation. Mental illness, drugging our kids with legal pharmaceuticals, psychiatric evaluations, cultural issues such as violent video games are all needed to be a part of this. But so are guns and oversized clips," Kozachik said. "There is nothing anti-Second Amendment about engaging the conversation. Everybody in the community is supportive of the safe handling and storing of firearms. The NRA guys should be supporting this instead of losing their sense of rationality about it."

On that point we can agree, Steve. But a gun buy back is a P.R. stunt that is mostly a waste of time and money.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. I agree, Dave. I read that there are an estimated 300 million guns owned by private citizens in the US. Buy-back and destroy programs are a good way to reduce the supply and eventually raise the price of a gun on the black market.

    Koz’s effort is just a drop in the bucket. The businesses that would benefit the most from fewer guns in private hands– UMC, TMC, the other local hospitals, the Arizona Hospital Association, and the health insurance companies– should sponsor a much larger effort. I wonder what percentage of uncompensated care in the US is related to firearms?

    Of course, buy-back and destroy programs are only one part of gun control reform.

  2. if my stolen guns turn up in this buy back, will I be contacted…they were reported stolen to Pima County Sheriffs dept in 2008…and they best not be destroyed.

  3. I’m not sure a PR stunt of this kind is such a bad idea. With guns reaching the status of sacred icons in this country, anything that can alter that mindset, even a little, and make the point that it might be a good idea to get rid of some guns is a good thing. Think of it as equivalent to the PR campaign against smoking. If guns can be made to seem less “cool,” maybe our gun culture can be pulled back a few notches.