New York Gun Buy-Back Programs: Effective or Just a “Nice Symbolic Effort”?

Gun buyback programs gained popularity in the violent crime waves of the1980s. Some communities continue to use this as a program to keep firearms off the streets. But do these programs really reduce violent crimes or are they simply a “symbolic” gesture by law enforcement?

It’s true that offering $200 for a weapon will likely draw people to bring in their firearms. But, more interestingly, how many of these people are bringing in all of their weapons and how many are simply bringing in the ones they don’t have a desire to use anymore? It is difficult to measure the actual effectiveness of these programs and there are differing opinions about their effectiveness.

Law enforcement typically says that these programs do work. Any firearm they collect is a firearm not being used on the street. The likelihood that the firearms turned in would have been used in a violent crime is probably very rare. According to this article at, some people feel that these programs simply make people “feel good” but do little to combat crime.

A study of the programs was done at the University of California at Davis which found that buyback programs only netted 1-2% of total guns and those bought were rarely guns that would’ve been used in the commission of a crime.

In an effort to multiply the effectiveness of the programs, many communities have tightened the regulations and procedures surrounding them. For instance, they won’t accept guns from dealers or broken guns, and will question the owners of legally licensed guns. What law enforcement agencies are seeking in these buyback programs are illegal firearms.

Firearms laws are extensive and confusing. In an effort to reduce accidents and also reduce instances of violent crime, there are laws carefully governing the use, possession, and carrying of firearms. For a brief summary of some of New York’s most commonly prosecuted firearm offenses, take a look here. And if you find yourself facing any weapons charge in New York state, take advantage our our legal experience and get some much needed advice in a free consultation from our New York defense attorneys.

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