Cash for ClunkersPosted by on Monday, June 25th, 2012
In addition to being a place where you find out about stupid laws that people get in trouble for breaking, this blog is also the place to go for stupid government programs. I’m not sure about this because I haven’t seen any official research (and I don’t know how it would be conducted, anyway), but I have my doubts about all of these gun buy back programs that I’ve been hearing about.
Over the weekend, Chicago officials collected more than 5,500 guns in exchange for pre-paid MasterCards of $100. Here are some things that don’t add up to me:
- They say they are doing this with “no questions asked.” But, I am positive that if a certain firearm was implicated in a crime (a missing murder weapon or something), there would be questions asked after the fact. The might not ask them right then, but they’re not going to just kill a lead like that. No way. Even if it were a truly no questions asked event, this would just mean that murderers would be turning in their murder weapons with no chance of ever getting caught for their crimes. How is this a good idea? $100 does not change a murder’s mind about being a violent person. They will have access to other weapons in the future if they desire to enact violence once again.
- Because I don’t believe it is truly “no questions asked,” I highly doubt that any of the 5,500 firearms that were collected were contributing in any way to violence in Chicago. A quick google search of “Chicago shooting” with a filter for the last 24 hours reveals that there were at least 2 people killed and 30 wounded in shootings this weekend. Evidently, these people were not motivated to turn in their firearms for a quick little gift card.
- Sometimes the rewards for these programs are worth more than the guns themselves, so obviously it is going to look like a successful program, but it is not necessarily the best use of the taxpayer’s money. You’ve probably heard of the controversial laws surrounding “Saturday Night Specials,” or inexpensive handguns. Well, these guns are quite common and $100 might cover their cost. Therefore, if the gun has any type of damage or if it’s old, the $100 might be more than the gun is worth. The fact that something is well-attended doesn’t make it successful. Whether it achieved its purpose or not (reducing crime) should be the thing that informs us of its efficacy.
- In previous programs in other cities, it is well known that gun dealers and people unloading junk guns that don’t even fire is quite a common thing.
- Common sense tells us that if people can unload their old junk guns for more than they are worth, they are probably going to go buy a new gun with the money! After all, these are people who wanted to own a gun for some reason or another. I’d be interested to hear statistics of gun dealers’ sales up to one month after one of these buy backs. This is where the post title comes in. “Cash for Clunkers” was another stupid government program that gave people exorbitant amounts of money for their old cars IF they purchased a new car with the trade in money. Obviously, these gun buy back programs could be seen as gun upgrade programs, instead.
- It’s not entirely clear where the guns that were turned in end up. Some buy back programs have destroyed the weapons on the spot. Unfortunately, this is not usually reported — the ultimate destination of these weapons. Some claim that the police get their pick of the loot and destroy the rest. Some claim that they re-sell them! Of course, I can’t really be sure, but unless they’re destroying each and every one on the spot, I can’t say I feel safer with the police having them than the little old lady down the street. Besides that, if they are just going to re-sell them, what was the point?
- If you agree with the gun buy back programs because you are a gun control person, you have to admit that this is still a minor drop in the bucket. These 5,500 guns cannot actually amount to much in the city of Chicago…even if it was criminals turning them in…
- I am always talking about revenue-generating laws. At times, cities crack down on certain benign behaviors in order to raise money for itself. Well, now they’re taking all of that money they raised and giving it back to you! Great, right? No, because they’re going to need to raise it again…
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