Did Baltimore have a gun buyback that actually worked?

Generally, when we hear about a county or city hosting a firearms “buyback” program it quickly turns into something of a joke. The police wind up taking in all manner of broken or antiquated firearms and paying out what would normally be considered more than the weapons were worth. Participation rates also tend to be rather dismal. But it’s just possible that the authorities in Baltimore have done at least a bit better with their most recent effort. This week they initiated another “no questions asked” buyback and netted an impressive number of firearms. (Fox Baltimore)

Monday at the Shake and Bake along Pennsylvania Avenue, the Baltimore City Police Department kicks off their ‘Gun Buyback’ Program.

Police were accepting any firearm or high-capacity magazines.

Police said they took in 538 guns by 5:30 p.m…

Mayor Pugh told FOX45, “Our point here is, there are guns on the streets of our city. We are signaling folks out there, we don’t care if its grandpa’s gun or your gun, we want it.”

Mayor Pugh’s comments indicate the first hint of trouble with this program. She went on the evening news and literally said, “we don’t care if its grandpa’s gun or your gun, we want it.” If you take grandpa’s gun without his knowing it and go sell it – even to the police – you’ve broken the law. Is that really the message the Mayor is trying to send?

So is this going to accomplish anything in terms of curbing Charm City’s spiraling violent crime rate? 538 guns is a lot for a single day to be sure, but what guns were they taking in? Go to the Baltimore Police Facebook page and check out the collection of photos they published. The majority of the weapons appear to be hunting rifles, particularly smaller, bolt-action models. There was one picture where something that might have been an AR-15 style rifle shows up, but it’s tough to be sure. The number of handguns (the most common weapon used in murders in Baltimore) was very small by comparison and most of them seemed to be revolvers.

That was probably in keeping with the payments they were offering and the needs citizens have (or no longer have) for firearms. They were giving out $25 for rifle magazines that carry more than 10 rounds, $100 for revolvers, $100 for pump or bolt-action rifles, $200 for semi-automatic weapons and a whopping $500 for fully automatic weapons. Looking at that collection, it doesn’t appear as if the cops were giving out too many $500 payments.

If all you did was get a bunch of hunting rifles off the streets (for the most part) I’m not sure what the impact is. Nobody is robbing stores or shooting up disputed drug corners with a bolt-action .22 caliber rifle. The lack of semi-automatic handguns in this haul is likely additional proof that criminals don’t give up their weapons easily and probably don’t trust the cops to stick to their no questions asked policy.

They did manage to score at least one decent handgun, but the woman turning it in had a reason for participating that didn’t seem to be in keeping with the theme of the program.

Most of the weapons turned in seem to have been in the categories that would fetch $100 for the seller. That means the city handed out roughly $50K for unwanted iron in a single day. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like you could put another cop out on the streets for the better part of a year with that kind of money.

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