Last Thursday, the state of New Jersey, not exactly a bastion of gun rights in the United States, held a series of events that allowed residents to turn in “unwanted” firearms for a cash payment, no questions asked.
While the events took in an impressive tally, nearly 5,000 firearms, the politicians behind the gun turn-in (we won’t call it a buyback, because the state didn’t own the guns in the first place, so they can’t exactly buy them back, now can they?) made some incredibly spurious claims regarding the effect of these efforts.
This post from Americas1stFreecom.org breaks down the numbers first to show us what kind of guns we’re really talking about.
Of the 1,973 handguns turned in (used most frequently in violent crimes according to FBI statistics), “photos showed such treasures as collectible (top-break) revolvers manufactured in the early 1900s to modern revolvers and semi-autos commonly used by law-abiding Americans for sport shooting and self-defense.”
The shotguns, a reported 1,142, ranged from double-barrel upland guns and pump guns designed for a variety of purposes, but few if any semi-auto shotguns could be seen.
Now here’s the big one: rifles. There were allegedly 1,025 total rifles turned in. This includes .22LR rimfire rifles, bolt-action deer rifles, and muzzleloaders, all of which are rarely used in crimes. Another group of rifles that are rarely used in crimes were paid some special attention by acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
He bragged about the 129 guns out of the 4,775 that were described by police as “assault weapons.”
“Those are weapons of war,” Fitzpatrick said. “Those are weapons that were designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Those weapons are no longer on the streets of New Jersey.”
And here is a perfect example of the purposeful confusion of terms by politicians being blindly reported by mainstream media outlets.
It’s incredibly unlikely that those 129 guns were full-auto assault rifles. Otherwise, they are semi-automatic rifles no different than any other semi-auto rifle in function, only in form.
Fully automatic firearms, which by definition an assault rifle must be, are highly regulated in the United States and have been since the 1930s. Additionally, according to federal law, any privately owned fully-automatic firearms must have been grandfathered in an made in the 1980s or earlier. Consequently, those with licenses to own and sell them deal in prices of many thousands of dollars. So, only someone who didn’t know what they had would dream of bringing one in for $200, the top payout offered by the state.
“To call them ‘weapons of war’ and say they are ‘designed to kill as many people as possible’ is an anti-gun lie that Fitzpatrick apparently didn’t mind parroting to somehow justify the gun turn-in program.
“Here’s the truth about gun turn-in programs in general. They are nothing more than feel-good projects used by cynical politicians to make their constituents believe they are doing something about violent crime. And judging by all the media hype the New Jersey turn-in received, promoters can probably consider their mission accomplished.
“Yet studies done by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research have shown that buyback programs have little impact on preventing gun violence. Politicians are well aware of that fact.”
The State Attorney General Christopher Porrino had some even more bizarre things to say about those 129 guns.
“If we collected just the assault weapons, this undertaking would have been worthwhile,” Porrino said at a press conference. “Many of those weapons are designed to pierce body armor, and getting just one off the street has tremendous value, not to mention getting 129 off the street in two days.”
If you’re reading this, you undoubtedly know the “armor-piercing” efficacy of any firearm has almost everything to do with the ammunition used, and very little to do with the actual gun. So here we just have more false gun facts voiced by a person of authority.
Porrino wrote an opinion piece in the Star-Ledger before the events were held in which he admitted gun turn-ins aren’t much of a solution to violence, but made an argument that clearly indicates he believes every firearm in the world should be destroyed: a humble goal.
“Some doubters question the overall efficacy of buybacks, while others suggest that buybacks tend to bring in mostly old ‘attic’ guns,” Porrino said. “But once a gun has been turned in and melted down — as every firearm obtained through these buybacks will be — it can never be stashed in a vacant building or used as a community gun to commit crime after crime. It can never be stolen in a burglary and used later in a violent crime. And it can never fall into the hands of a curious child.”
And yes, every gun the state used taxpayer dollars to buy from private citizens will be melted down and destroyed. The NRA summarized it best:
“Destroying that heirloom .22 rifle given up by an 80-year-old grandfather who is short on groceries doesn’t have any effect on violent crime. Melting down a grandmother’s historic break-open revolver that would be a welcome addition to many gun collections doesn’t stop one gang member from gunning down a rival gang member in a drug-related turf war.
“Cutting up a Remington 700 deer rifle that could have been used by a law-abiding sportsman to put meat on the table for his family is so far removed from the issue of violent crime it’s impossible to even draw a line between the two.
“And giving $100 for a handgun to a young mother who needs the money for back-to-school clothing for her children won’t help her protect herself and those same kids when an intruder kicks down her door in the middle of the night.
“The basis for New Jersey’s gun buyback can be boiled down into four simple words—all guns are bad. Otherwise, why would turn-in promoters celebrate every gun they destroy?”
Even further enhancing the perception of Garden State politicians as almost absurdly anti-gun, according to this story from guns.com, an NJ democrat has submitted a proposal this week to the U.S. House that would “fund an environmentally friendly grant program to purchase unwanted guns.”
Dubbed the Safer Neighborhoods Gun Buyback Act, the bill would provide a two-year grant to the U.S. Department of Justice to send out debit cards to gun dealers as well as state and local governments to be used to trade for guns which, in turn, would be destroyed. The bill’s author says the program reduces the number of guns in circulation, and therefore contributes to public safety.