Why Santa Ana's Gun Buyback Won't Do Much

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With the Ali Syed freeway shooting spree that ended with four dead this week and the Christopher Dorner nightmare that left five deceased (note I'm counting the gunmen in each), it's not difficult to see why Santa Ana has announced the city's first gun buyback program, which is Saturday near Santa Ana Stadium. Coupled with the Newtown, Conn., massacre and other recent mass shootings, you can appreciated officials wanting to do something. It's just too bad gun buybacks do little to help stem such tragedies.


In the current Freakonomics podcast "How to Think About Guns," University of Chicago economist Steve Levitt points his co-host Stephen Dubner to data that shows buybacks have generally become a way for people to cash in on disposing weapons that are broken or no longer wanted, and that these donors still hold onto working or wanted firearms. In other works, cities are buying back junk, for the most part, so the programs do little to reduce shootings by operable weapons.

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Steve Levitt
Levitt also maintains the data show there is no correlation between targeting particular guns and ammunition--such as assault rifles and high-capacity clips--with reducing mass shootings in particular or gun violence in general. Keep in mind this is an academic respected for his independence. In the Freakonomics documentary he famously claimed abortion is the No. 1 cause for historically low crime rates in America; there is a whole generation of criminals who were never born, he suggests.

When dealing with mass shootings, though horrific and (thus?) highly publicized, they are but a blip on the crime screen. Levitt points not to the NRA's American Rifleman magazine but that lefty toilet companion Mother Jones, which built a database on mass shootings (ones where there were at least four victims) and discovered that since 1982, there have been 62 mass shootings with 513 fatalities, or an average of 2 mass shootings and 16.5 fatalities a year. Over just the past 10 years, it's slightly higher at about 3 shootings a year with 26 fatalities, and 2012 was an admittedly bad year with 7 shootings and 72 fatalities, more than 4 times the yearly average.

However, there are about 11,000 gun homicides and 20,000 gun suicides a year in the U.S. And when it comes to reducing those numbers, Levitt concludes that it is not buybacks or weapon bans that will drive down those numbers but, based on studies, sentencing enhancements that add more prison time for gun use.

If a criminal knew that just for using a gun he or she'd get an additional five or 10 years in prison added to current sentencing mandates, that would deter gun use, goes the argument. Penalties that would escalate prison time further for firing a gun, injuring someone, murder, etc., would also deter those scenarios, offers Levitt, who realizes no one is exploring such a strategy.

"I would just say that anyone with any sense looks at the current political climate, thinks about the kinds of proposals that are being made and accepts the fact that none of these proposals are going to have any real impact at all," he says pessimistically.

With gift cards of $100-$200 being dangled in front of Santa Ana rifle and handgun owners and $300 for assault weapon holders, it's no wonder logic like that falls on deaf ears (at least between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday near Eddie West Field). If you'd like to open your ears to that Freakonomics podcast, press play below:



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17 comments
thom23420031
thom23420031

Cool...I'm gonna bring in my old rusted .25 Semi-auto pistol (worthless) and use the $200 gift card as a down payment on a new Glock.

FREDEX
FREDEX

Why Santa Ana's Gun Buyback Won't Do Much

Because Michele Martinez brothers are in prison??? That was a joke.

Seriously, to think that the Santa Ana city council could understand the basics of economics, let alone the dynamic discussions led by Levitt and Dubner in FREAKANOMICS is a stretch. They barely have command of English.

Speaking of the Santa Ana city council, What about a hard hitting look into the sting pulling puppeteer Robert Oliver, husband of Angie Azumecua. the wole El Merro Merro thing, the threats and his insistance to Pedroza's wacky followers that "SHE IS INDEPENDENT" in a six hundred word post explaining her position......BY HIM.

Besides, I hear the real GUN buy has to do with a real estate agent and a councilman, and the pistol was LOADED!

BobLoblawsLawBlog
BobLoblawsLawBlog

Gun buy backs are only effective in reducing gun crime when coupled with effective gun control laws. This was demonstrated in Australia. If part of an effort to reduce the number of weapons circulating in the public it's effects are enormous. From Slate:

"At the heart of the push was a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, or about one-fifth of all firearms in circulation in Australia. The country’s new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners, and required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.) In the wake of the tragedy, polls showed public support for these measures at upwards of 90 percent.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

Wow--I'm actually impressed by this post. Who knew Matt "Octo-obsessed" Coker could write intelligently about a matter of public policy.

BobLoblawsLawBlog
BobLoblawsLawBlog

Continued:

What happened next has been the subject of several academic studies. Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August, homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since."

stuff.it6
stuff.it6

@BobLoblawsLawBlog  if you like Australia so much, why don't you just move there. The Constitution and its Bill of Rights is not a take out menu, you can not pick and choose what you like. So you and your law blog should go, go to the land of the gator, oh and please get eaten!

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

@BobLoblawsLawBlog @Mitchell_Young @stuff.it6 Yeah, I probably overstated the 'standard infantry weapon' bit...at least as far as the decisions themselves. However, that's where the understanding of the 2nd amendment is going -- because that's what it meant. It has to be read in conjunction with the Militia Act of 1791 -- every white male had not only the right, but the duty, to have a musket (the standard infantry weapon of the day). 

BobLoblawsLawBlog
BobLoblawsLawBlog

@Mitchell_Young @BobLoblawsLawBlog @stuff.it6  

Those are decisions on the legality of possessing hand guns. The do not say that a person should have unrestricted access to M-4 carbines. Besides the original post clearly showed that gun buy-backs work when coupled with restrictions on the sales of firearms.

stuff.it6
stuff.it6

@BobLoblawsLawBlog @stuff.it6 wow, funny how all you so called lawyers are just so classless, thats the problem with this country these days, we have a bunch of bigots spewing nonsence......you must be one of those amblance chasers we all see on the cnn news channel.....seems some one already pointed out the otherside of you lame argument.....

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

@BobLoblawsLawBlog @stuff.it6 Try Heller v. District of Columbia (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago. 

The right to bear arms, up to an including the standard infantry weapon of the day, is arffirmed. 

Debaser7
Debaser7

Your posts always bring some sanity and  humor to these typically gawdawful threads.  Thank you.

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