According to The Washington Free Beacon, the U.K.’s National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) held a firearm surrender program which ran from November 13 – 26. The reason? Gun crime has risen in the U.K. over the last year.
According to the Office for National Statistics:
Offences involving firearms increased by 27% (to 6,696) in year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year (5,269 offences). This was driven largely by a 25% increase in offences involving handguns (up to 2,791 from 2,224) and partly by an 18% increase in offences involving imitation weapons such as BB guns8 (up to 1,721 from 1,457), a 53% increase in offences involving shotguns (up to 652 from 427) and a 47% increase in offences involving unidentified firearms (up to 933 from 635). The latest rise continues an upward trend seen in firearms offences in the last few years. …
Although complete figures are unavailable at this time, several localities are claiming that they received “hundreds” of firearms during the surrender period.
During the U.K.’s last firearm surrender in 2014, authorities recovered more than 6,000 guns and firearm-related items, ranging from antiques to handguns and ammunition.
Here’s the thing — firearm return programs don’t work. Citizens who willingly surrender their firearms are, almost by definition, law-abiding. These individuals may be in possession of an illegal gun, but they have no malicious intent. Criminals, however, will not simply give up their guns.
In fact, such programs may even endanger lives. If law-abiding citizens are surrendering working firearms, they have reduced their ability to defend themselves against criminals.
This brings forward an important question: If firearm surrender programs don’t actually work to reduce crime, why implement them at all? Circumstances vary, but it’s an easy bet that there are two primary drivers of these programs — virtue signaling, and security theatre.
In an op-ed published by the New York Daily News on Saturday, Jim Manly argues that gun buybacks are a great way to show elected officials that “we expect action.”
“Fewer guns, fewer massacres,” writes Manly. “Obviously, this wouldn’t be the final answer to the bloodshed that plagues America, but with new insights about what it would take to reduce gun violence, it’s time to let our local, state and federal representatives know that we expect action. After all, there is no better way to make America great than to keep its citizens alive.”
Manly adds: “Because the alternative to doing something — the reality of still doing nothing, even after so many unspeakable killings — is unfathomable.”
First, Manly is simply incorrect regarding the notion that fewer guns means fewer massacres. A 2013 Pew Research Center study “found U.S. firearm homicides peaked in 1993 at 7.0 deaths per 100,000 people,” and that “by 2010, the rate was 49% lower, and firearm-related violence — assaults, robberies, sex crimes — was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993,” reports CNN. During that same approximate period (1993 – 2013), there was a 56% increase in the “number of privately owned firearms,” according to American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
Second, as Manly himself admits, gun surrender or buyback programs are simply an expression of virtue and angst directed at lawmakers. The programs themselves don’t appear to accomplish anything as it relates to reducing crime.
Governmental agencies that initiate voluntary surrender or buyback programs, as well as politicians who advocate for such things, are simply engaging in a type of security theatre not dissimilar to TSA screenings at the airport. Officials need citizens to witness them “taking action.” As long as the action being taken looks good, it doesn’t need to materially advance any cause.
Gun surrender programs are the fashion shows of the political world — they look great, but ultimately offer nothing practical or useful.