Do gun buyback programs work? One expert says no

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The goal of so-called “gun buyback” programs are to get guns off the streets while also giving people a little extra cash, but does it actually make the streets safer? Larry Southwick, an expert from the University at Buffalo, says it does not.

“If the goal is to make the people doing it feel good about themselves then it’s working. It will have little to no effect on crime in either direction,” said Southwick.

On Saturday, six Buffalo churches are hosting the 7th annual buyback program.

During the last six buyback programs, 4,500 guns were collected, but Southwick says that number is just a drop in the bucket, “There are a really large number of guns in our society out there. There are more guns in our society than people. So you’re not going to get very many off [the streets].”

But Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says the program is worth it. “If we can take just one gun off the streets that could be used in a crime or to injure a community member, the effort is well worth it,” he argued.

For each non-working or antique gun, including BB and pellet guns, residents receive a $10 pre-paid credit card. A rifle or shotgun receives $50, handguns receive $75 and assault weapons receive $100. The funds for the program come from police department asset seizures.

The following locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. August 16 for the gun buyback:

True Bethel Baptist Church – 907 East Ferry Street
St. John Baptist Church – 184 Goodell Street
Church of the Good Shepherd – 96 Jewett Parkway
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church – 213 Ontario Street
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church – 450 Abbott Road
Primera United Methodist Church – 62 Virginia Street

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