By Brett Gillin
While the debate may rage on as to whether gun buyback programs are effective in reducing gun violence, one thing is not up for debate: The Boston Police Department’s version of a gun buyback program has been an abysmal failure in 2015. With a six-figure budget, it may be time to rethink the way Boston is approaching ways to get guns off the streets.
According to this article in the Boston Herald, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh admits that the buyback program is not performing as expected and needs to work on its approach. “We need promotion of it,” Walsh told reporters. “That’s what I was talking about, is that we didn’t promote it the way we did last year. We kept the program in place and, believe it or not, I think (the) story will be helpful to us.”
Last year, the buyback program netted the Boston Police Department more than 400 firearms, according to Outdoor Hub. However, without the same marketing push that Boston PD put behind the campaign last year, this year only a single weapon has been removed from the streets.
“We need people to know that the gun buyback program is still in process,” Walsh told reporters. “We’ve never ended it. So we’re going to continue to push that out there, and having more information out there letting them know that the program is still in existence, is a good thing.”
The buyback program works by offering anyone who brings a gun, whether that gun is in working condition or not, in to the police department a gift card in exchange for getting that gun off the street. Both this year and last, the department is offering $200 Visa gift cards to people who turned in guns, along with immunity from prosecution if the gun was illegally owned. One caveat is the immunity does not apply if that gun was used in commission of a crime.
Critics of the buyback program say that not only are these programs ineffective, but they may only be making gun owners seem like criminals. Jim Wallace, the executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts, told reporters during an interview with MSNBC “If gun buybacks were supposedly effective, then why don’t we have drug buybacks?”
Still, The Boston Police Department and Mayor Walsh are hoping that with articles like this one, that word will continue to spread around Boston, and more illegal guns will be brought off the streets.