Gun-control advocates have unveiled a brand-new “common sense” tactic in their never-ending quest to crack down on … oh, wait. Actually, it’s not a brand-new tactic at all. And it lacks common sense. But it IS another soundbite solution (you know, the type of thing that sounds good in a soundbite but doesn’t actually do anything substantial) to the “problem” of Americans owning firearms. Yes, the gun “buyback” is back, and in a big way.
Hillary Clinton started the ball rolling a few days ago, while responding to a campaign event question about Australia’s gun confiscation program. Sure, the presidential candidate said, Australia’s anti-gun moves are “worth considering.” Now, Australia didn’t engage in one of those ineffective programs where people turn in their guns in exchange for gift cards. No, gun owners in Australia turned in their guns and received a small bit of cash in exchange for not becoming criminals. They weren’t allowed to own these guns anymore. It was a confiscation program—albeit one that involved a wee bit of compensation for the loss of your property.
Now Team Hillary is publically backing off of its qualified support for the Australian plan, with spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieiri claiming that Clinton was only expressing her support for the voluntary turn-in programs that have been held for years across the United States. Apparently Clinton believes that these programs have been effective. She might just be the only person in the country who still clings to the idea that these programs do anything to make communities safer.
Back in 2013, USA Todayreported that “researchers who have evaluated gun-control strategies say buybacks—despite their popularity—are among the least effective ways to reduce gun violence.” Earlier this year, even the Bloomberg-funded anti-gun website The Trace acknowledged that “buybacks” don’t get guns out of the hands of criminals and are more useful as PR efforts for politicians wanting to show they’re “doing something” about crime. Even more recently, an assistant police commissioner in New York City acknowledged that gun “buybacks” don’t work in the Big Apple. Trying to stop violent crime by collecting “garbage guns” from non-criminals is like trying to cut down on speeders by going after bicyclists, or trying to stop a philandering husband by getting all his female interns to quit their job.
So here we are. Democratic presidential frontrunner Clinton, according to her own words and the words of her spokesperson, is either in favor of something incredibly ineffective (gun “buybacks”) or incredibly unconstitutional (a mandatory confiscation program with some amount of financial compensation). She says these ideas are part of her “common sense” plans to reduce gun violence, even though there’s no common sense to be found in either. There is some consistency in her position, however. Back when her husband was in the White House, he was also a big fan of “buybacks,” even though there was already plenty of evidence demonstrating the failure of “buyback” programs across the country, from Boston to Seattle.
Criminals don’t turn in their guns at “buybacks,” but that’s only one reason these programs are ineffective. The crime problem in the United States is not one based on the supply of guns, but on the criminal demand for them. Trying to stop violent crime by collecting “garbage guns” from non-criminals is like trying to cut down on speeders by going after bicyclists, or trying to stop a philandering husband by getting all his female interns to quit their job. You’re going after the wrong people. Targeted policing aimed at stopping the most violent offenders from continuing their life of crime is real common sense, and it has the added bonus of being truly effective as well. The biggest problem with this strategy, at least for the anti-gun crowd, is that it doesn’t require additional gun control laws to work.
That might explain why Hillary Clinton is talking about getting Americans to turn in the guns that they own rather than proclaiming she’ll harness the power of the federal government to fully prosecute the relatively small number of criminals across the country who are bringing such misery to their communities. After all, it was she who declared the NRA—not the individuals who are actually committing violent crimes—to be one of her favorite enemies. With her comments, Clinton’s made it clear the main focus in her anti-gun crusade will be the law-abiding gun owners of this country. As long as that’s the case, her gun policies will be based in nonsense, not common sense.