Over the weekend, Los Angeles held its annual gun “buyback” program for the eighth consecutive year. Mayor Garcetti always loves to talk up this event, claiming that it’s an important piece of the puzzle in terms of reducing gun violence. This year was no different and he was quick to sing the praises of the program to the local media. Of course, the underlying reality is considerably different than the sunny outlook being touted by the Mayor. And when you look at the specific issues that the LAPD is currently dealing with, along with the lack of details provided by City Hall, the entire idea seems to fall apart a bit. (CBS Los Angeles)
Saturday marked the eighth year of the gun buy back program held by Mayor Garcetti’s office and run by the LAPD.
The program was hosted at three locations across Los Angeles from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“I really had no need for them so I just thought I’d get a little extra cash for the holidays,” said Jeffrey Bailey, a Gardena resident who participated in the program on Saturday.
How many guns were actually turned in aside from the ones given by the subject of that interview? We don’t know because they aren’t saying. The police like to broadcast the number of guns taken off the streets in the past eight years as being more than 43,000. But you have to read the fine print to realize that the figure being offered covers not just the gun buyback program, but all of the illegal weapons recovered from criminals as well. The latter obviously accounts for the lion’s share of recovered illegal firearms.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore is quoted as saying that “every gun recovered in this ‘Buy Back’ program means one less weapon that can be used to inflict harm.” While that may be theoretically true if the guns are later stolen, it’s not generally criminals and gangbangers showing up for these events. And as we’ve seen in the past, the quality of the firearms being turned in is often dubious at best.
We should also point out that even the name of the program is a misnomer. You can’t “buy back” something that you didn’t sell in the first place. The government is simply dishing out money for a voluntary gun confiscation program, usually collecting only older weapons that people don’t want anymore. They were paying people $100 for handguns, rifles, and shotguns, or $200 for an “assault rifle.”
So what’s been the result of this highly touted program? Gun violence has increased by nearly 30% as compared to the same time last year. More than 1,100 people have been shot, with 311 of them being killed. If you’re looking for the actual culprit behind those numbers, it almost certainly has little to nothing to do with the number of guns being turned in or remaining on the streets. Criminals always find a way to get their hands on a weapon if they really want one.
More likely, as even the Chief of Police pointed out, is the fact that the city slashed the budget of the LAPD in the wake of all of the riots and protests. And as of this weekend, Los Angeles was looking at cutting its budget further and eliminating an additional 1,900 jobs. Half of those job cuts would come from the police force under the current proposal.
Crime is up. Arrests are down. In response, the size of the police force is shrinking. I don’t think you need to have a degree in mathematics to see that this formula simply doesn’t add up. I understand that the city’s coffers are strained just like everywhere else in the country due to the pandemic. But you have to find a way to pay for law enforcement or the rest of your societal structure implodes, and things are already slipping in the wrong direction. This isn’t long division, people.