Anti-Gunners Paint Themselves Into a Corner Refusing 3D-Printed Guns at ‘Buyback’

by Tommy Grant

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A gun control group in New Mexico recently announced yet another gun “buyback” event. This time, though, there’s a twist: no 3D-printed guns are allowed. We’ve seen this before, but this time the group managed to paint themselves into a corner when they refused to respond to some very simple questions about the policy

The biggest one: Why not buy 3D-printed “ghost guns” from the public? The main reason they won’t answer that question is obvious. There’s simply no good argument for that policy.

If they were to agree to take them, they’d get ripped off by people who print dozens of simple guns specifically for the sale (like this one). They’d effectively be admitting that gun “buybacks” are worthless.

The “no questions asked” events are really only good opportunities for a criminals to dump a crime gun, or for Joe Citizen to get rid of an old, broken-ass firearm that has no value, and was never likely to be used in a crime. Plenty of people who’ve looked at “buybacks” closely have concluded they do nothing to stop the cycle of criminal violence.

But if the politicians who plan and promote these things refuse to take 3D-printed guns people bring to these events, they’re admitting that 3D-printed guns aren’t really the public health and safety menace (GHOST GUNS!) they claim they are.

There are lots of good 3D-printed gun designs these days. Despite a few examples, few people are going to waste their time and money building them to sell at a “buyback.” There’s also the fact that they’ve been repeatedly found in Europe, but don’t get used often in crimes, so the argument that gun availability drives crime isn’t supported by the evidence.

The security theater grifters who put on “buybacks” never bother to defend them as being effective, taking the Fifth whenever they’re challenged by the public. But, unlike a court of actual law, we’re totally free to use their silence as evidence against them.

Gun buybacks make for good media stand-up opportunities and sound bites for the local news. That’s the real motivation behind the politicians who promote these things. As for getting guns off the street that would otherwise be used in crimes, it’s all just more performative security theater that does virtually nothing to reduce actual gun crimes.

The reason none of these people respond when asked about 3D guns or the effectiveness of their dog and pony shows is that there’s almost no evidence they work, so there’s no way to win their argument. As the RAND Corporation reports, “While the ultimate goal of most buyback programs is to reduce firearm violence and crime, few studies have demonstrated that these programs have such effects.”

And then there’s this . . .

Gun buyback programs, as commonly implemented in the United States, are small, feasible interventions, but they are unlikely to measurably reduce firearm violence, even if they do prevent some incidents. Research on buyback effectiveness is limited, but the findings to date are not promising. Furthermore, the intended impacts are implausible because too few firearms are turned in to gun buybacks, at least as currently implemented. Given these limitations, policymakers and community groups should consider whether the scarce resources allocated to gun buybacks—even if these resources are minimal—might be better spent on more-promising violence prevention efforts.

That kind of analysis doesn’t play well on the evening news and doesn’t look good in a campaign commercial. As long as there are cameras and reporters with microphones to interview attention-whoring politicians, there will be “buybacks,” no matter how useless they are.

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