Maybe the Real Dummies Are the People Who Can’t Articulate a Convincing Defense of Gun Buyback Programs


HB1381, introduced by state Rep. Luke Simons (R-Dickinson) and passed by the House earlier this month on a 66-26 vote, would ban any gun buyback program sanctioned or funded by the government in North Dakota.

Private organizations could still do a buyback event, but no event sponsored by the government and/or funded by taxpayer dollars would be allowed.

This bill has garnered some national attention, as my colleague Patrick Springer pointed out in a recent report.

Mike Weiss, a blogger who claims to be interested in both sides of the gun debate (your mileage on that claim may vary), called Simons’ bill “the single dumbest piece of legislation enacted anywhere in the United States.”

The bill hasn’t actually been enacted yet – it needs to be approved by the state Senate yet, and also signed by Governor Doug Burgum – and Weiss’ argument in favor of buyback programs leaves much to be desired.

From Springer’s piece:

The study is flawed, Weisser argued in a Feb. 21 blog post, because the success of gun buyback programs should be measured by the number of guns they take off the street. He touts a gun buyback program that started in Worcester, Mass., and has spread to five states that he credits with taking many guns off the street over the past 18 years.

This argument holds that gun buyback programs work because they buy up a lot of guns.

Which makes the programs a sort of self-licking ice cream cone, I suppose?

The point of gun buyback programs is to reduce crime and violence. If we can’t demonstrate that the programs accomplish this, then all they are accomplishing is the expenditure of lots and lots of money buying and destroying guns.

What’s the point of that?

Again per SpringerNew York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof also called Simons’ bill dumb (it’s almost like these people were working off the same talking points memo or something), but also failed to come up with any data suggesting the buyback programs accomplish anything other than the buy up of a lot of guns:

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, also criticized the proposed North Dakota ban of state and local government-sponsored gun buybacks, which he called possibly the “dumbest bit of legislation so far this year.”

Kristof acknowledged that the effectiveness of gun buyback programs is controversial. “In fact,” he wrote, “we don’t really know whether gun buybacks are a cost-effective way to reduce gun crimes, but there is some logic to the idea that if fewer unwanted guns are lying around, there will be fewer murders, accidents and suicides.”

Kristof – a Pulitzer Prize winner – is basing his argument in favor of the efficacy of this policy on his feeling that it should work.

Whether or not it actually does, as measured by real-world data, apparently doesn’t matter.

A lot of times in politics we see one faction or another take a position not so much because they consider it a good position but because it annoys the opposition.

I suspect the defense of gun buy back programs, at least as articulated by these two, is an example of that.