Think of it as a sort of federal buyback program of the sort that local governments often use. The idea is to have fewer guns in the public’s hands by paying them to turn those guns in.
(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has introduced a bill that would give individuals a federal tax credit for surrendering their semiautomatic weapons.
The “Support Assault Firearms Elimination and Reduction for our Streets Act” would amend the Internal Revenue Code to “allow a credit against tax for surrendering to authorities certain assault weapons.”
Section 25E of the bill reads: In the case of an individual who surrenders a specified assault weapon to the United States or a State or local government (or political subdivision thereof) as part of a Federal, State, or local public safety program to reduce the number of privately owned weapons, on the election of the taxpayer there shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by this chapter an amount equal to $2,000.”
The bill states that the $2,000 tax credit will be allowed for the taxable year in which the weapon is surrendered and that only one credit will be permitted for each taxable year.
The problem, of course, is that guy buyback programs don’t really do all that much to reduce crime. Because the guns people generally surrender are old, obsolete weapons they don’t want any more and worth less than the value of the buyback the government is offering.
a 2004 study by the National Research Council concluded that gun buy back programs don’t work for exactly those reasons:
“The theory on which gun buy-back programs is based is flawed in three respects. First, the guns that are typically surrendered in gun buy-backs are those that are least likely to be used in criminal activities. Typically, the guns turned in tend to be of two types: (1) old, malfunctioning guns whose resale value is less than the reward offered in buy-back programs or (2) guns owned by individuals who derive little value from the possession of the guns (e.g., those who have inherited guns). The Police Executive Research Forum (1996) found this in their analysis of the differences between weapons handed in and those used in crimes. In contrast, those who are either using guns to carry out crimes or as protection in the course of engaging in other illegal activities, such as drug selling, have actively acquired their guns and are unlikely to want to participate in such programs.
“Second, because replacement guns are relatively easily obtained, the actual decline in the number of guns on the street may be smaller than the number of guns that are turned in. Third, the likelihood that any particular gun will be used in a crime in a given year is low. In 1999, approximately 6,500 homicides were committed with handguns. There are approximately 70 million handguns in the United States…”
I’ve had some gun owners who are something less than principled in their opinions about the use of public money tell me they love gun buyback programs. They dump their old and busted firearms and use the money to buy newer, better guns.
Like most gun control policies, this one is ineffective. But it does make for good political theater.