Gun Rights Group Plans to Flood Chicago Buyback Program

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. photo from Chicago Tribune.

Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel announced a new $250,000 gun buyback program on Monday, and it didn't take long for a gun-rights advocate to promise to exploit the program. The group Guns Save Lives (GSL) used an earlier buyback program in the city to "embarrass city officials," according to this story from the Chicago Sun-Times.

"We will be delighted to transact business once more with do-gooders in Chicago," said John Boch, executive director of GSL.

In 2012, GSL members say they turned in about 60 guns, some of them rusty and inoperable. No matter the condition, anyone turning in a gun gets a $100 MasterCard gift card. GSL used the cards to buy ammunition and bolt-action rifles to give away to campers at a National Rifle Association youth camp.

Gun dealers also got in on the no-questions-asked policy of the 2012 program, the story says, to unload inventory worth less than $100 in exchange for the $100 cards.

Chicago officials accused GSL of hampering a program meant to take guns off the streets and reduce violence.

Boch told the Sun-Times that the GSL was simply demonstrating the ineffectiveness of buyback programs, and vowed to return to the city with 50 or 60 guns to turn in.

"We will put that money to good use for public awareness efforts on our part," he said. "We don't need gun control, we need crime control."

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department told the Sun-Times that officers will be checking to see if the guns are operable or not, but won't check IDs of the people who turn them in.

"If people want to game the system, society is the victim," he said. "I think those people need to ask themselves, are they part of the solution to reduce violence?"

The city collected about 5,500 guns in 2012. This year, officials hope to collect at least 2,500 guns and is again providing the $100 gift cards.

The article goes on to quote a 2013 study by Anthony Braga, professor at Rutgers University, that said municipal gun buyback programs don't make a significant difference in violent crime rates.

"The small scale of these programs makes it difficult to generate the desired effects on the availability of guns to criminals an others. As such, it is not suprising that impact evaluations have failed to find any link between gun buyback programs and subsequent decreases in gun violence," Braga writes.

He went on to say that buybacks are useful for "promoting awareness of gun violence and youth violence, providing safe disposal opportunities, and changing public views toward firearms."