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500 Guns Swapped For Cash in Harlem: Are Buybacks Good?

In tough economic times, people are trying to make money any way they can — and one surprising example sneaks in community service too. In Harlem this weekend, five churches offered cash for weapons – no questions asked. Rifles, handguns, and shotguns were brought to the churches on Saturday and in return the unarmed were given a $200 bank card.

This program, sponsored by the NYPD and Manhattan DA’s office, was created over a dozen years ago in an effort to get guns off the streets and has been met with great success. So far about 5,000 have been removed from New York and over 500 of those in this last buyback. Two weeks ago Brooklyn churches purchased over 400 firearms.

Critics and proponents are at odds over the efficacy of gun buyback programs. Skeptics say, "It's like trying to drain the Pacific with a bucket. More guns are going to flow in." Though Oakland held a popular buyback this Spring where more than 1,000 guns were swapped for $170,000. Is cash an effective way to drain dangerous weapons from the streets?


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brandy, that's a little far-fetched. are there dirty cops? sure, but they aren't 'most responsible' for the guns being out there.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
This is a good idea in theory. I don't think any smart criminal is going to turn in his gun. He would make more money using his gun to break the law, wouldn't he?
foxie foxie 8 years
Wow. Anything to support that bold claim?
Well, it would be a great idea, if cops weren't the ones most responsible for putting dirty guns out onto the streets in the first place... Kind of like a cop carrying around a dirty gun, just in case they shoot an unarmed person, they can always throw the gun on them, no suspension for Mr. Dirty Cop.
Tax dollars at work? This kind of thing has been going on for a while now, and so far, it's been ineffective. I agree with GS, org and pop. Boondoggle to the nth degree, and who pays in the end?
foxie foxie 8 years
Even if it makes zero difference? Perhaps even has a negative effect? That's productive...
dreamsugar dreamsugar 8 years
[Do you really think this makes any kind of dent?] I don't know -- but I'm all for gun control.
bamareb bamareb 8 years
The first year that they had a gun buy back in Chattanooga,Tn. they held it at the local fire halls. I was at one of them seeing a fire fighter friend of mine while it was going on and it only took me a few minutes of looking at the guns being traded in to know that it was one of the biggest waste of tax dollars I had ever seen. The fire arms that were being traded in were ether Saturday Night Specials (25 automatic or rusted out 32 cal.) most of the people bringing them in were mom & pop's with old rifles that I would be to scared to shot because of the age and shape they were in. I heard more then one old timer say that the firing pins were broke and they wouldn't even shot no matter how many times you pulled the trigger. In the four hours that it was going own did I see one person bring in a illegal fire arm turned in and everyone that brought them in were all law abiding citizen. I didn't see any Mac 10's, AK47's or Glock's just old broke down 22's and some very old shotguns with about 6 inches of rust on them all. After the law ran a check on all of the fire arms that were turned in that day not a one of them were stolen or matched up to any fire arms used to kill anyone with. No criminal is going to go turn in his stolen fire arm for a couple of hundred dollars.
foxie foxie 8 years
Dream- I could say the same thing. If this is what it takes to get guns out of the hands of hoodlums, then I'm for it. But IS this what it takes? Do you really think this makes any kind of dent?
dreamsugar dreamsugar 8 years
If this is what it takes -- I'm for it.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
What happens to these guns after the government buys them?
Briandiesel Briandiesel 8 years
I think its a great plan. They probably would make more money selling them to another person than the 200 bucks they are getting for turning them in. So I think those people really have good intentions.
foxie foxie 8 years
Good point, GS! I wouldn't be surprised if much of the money spent in the buyback program went towards buying OTHER guns...
lorenashley lorenashley 8 years one is FORCING these people to do anything they dont want.
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 8 years
Well the program is voluntary so...I guess they'll have to learn karate to defend themselves.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
I think that most studies show this is more or less a feel-good boondoggle.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 8 years
That's great, now when someone tries to break into your home you have no way of defending yourself! Why would criminals trade in their guns? $200 is a drop in the bucket compared to what you could get using that to rob people!
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
People that use their guns to commit crimes to steal and terrorize for money aren't going to sell their guns. It would be like a carpenter pawning his hammer instead of just using it to ply his trade.
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 8 years
I guess it's better than the police doing nothing. I've only been living in NY for a short time, so I'm not sure what else the NYPD has been doing to reduce crime. Something is working though b/c it's crime reputation has improved. Detroit and St. Louis topped a list I read for most dangerous cities in 07 in the U.S. maybe they could take some notes on overall crime reduction...
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
I wonder how many people who lawfully purchased their guns had them stolen for this?
Angela123 Angela123 8 years
I agree with BOTH of the first two options..I'm all for anything that gets any gun off of the streets, AND I feel that such programs will not (even come close to) eradicate the problem completely. I guess that should be a BUT not an AND, but you get the's Monday :shrug:
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
Although I don't think this is a bad idea I think it may be missing the point. I don't think that the people who are committing violent crimes with guns are actually the people turning in the weapons at these "buyback" events.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
The program, according to the AP, was started 6 years ago...has the crime rate been reduced at all in the area? Can any sort of crime rate reduction be attributed to these programs? This kind of information might show whether the programs have been effective thus far. I mean, I'm all for the programs, I think they might help in theory...except that they actually might bring more dangerous weapons and other things to the area. Turn in a few lesser handguns, take out the cash and go buy a more high-powered gun from somewhere else. Or get the cash and buy drugs.
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