There is legislation floating around Trenton that is all sizzle and no steak. State Sen. Linda Greenstein has a bill that would mandate nine gun buybacks per year that will cover the entire state and cost several million dollars.

"This is an attempt to have to have a statewide program where on a regular basis, North, South and Central Jersey, we would have buybacks, three in each location."

The goal of course is to reduce gun violence, and it is costly and flawed thinking. "If guns are hanging around the street, they're going to fall into the wrong hands for sure, and we want to get as many of them off the street as we can," says Greenstein. "We're a congested state and having guns out there and accessible to non-law-abiding citizens is extremely dangerous."

She wants to use $2 million a year in tax dollars to offer tax credits to encourage private donations to bring even more necessary money into this program. The problem is, it will accomplish nothing. It will make a nice campaign bullet point for her next time she runs. Linda Greenstein made our communities safer by getting X amount of guns off the streets. Except it doesn't make communities safer. Experts agree, gun buyback are very popular but very ineffective. The types of guns being turned in at these events are not the guns that are on the street. They are the guns that are in people's attics and basements, long forgotten, out of date, often inoperable anyway. In fact, if you know anything about gun shows you know that sometimes barrels of broken down old weapons are offered for sale for extremely cheap just for the purpose of people acquiring them to turn in to gun buyback events for more money than they're worth. The events make for great photo ops; a cache of weapons spread across a prosecutor's table and lots of back patting about how they're cleaning up crime. The real crime is that our tax dollars go to fund programs that are the least effective way of reducing gun violence.

Matt Makarios studied these buyback programs while a criminal justice professor at University of Cincinnati. "They don't get a lot of crime guns off the street. You're only going to reduce the likelihood of gun crimes if you reduce the number of guns used in crimes." These programs rarely do that. What does? Targeted police patrols, community policing, tougher gun laws if you can swallow them, intervention operations with known criminals all do a better job of reducing gun violence.

There are 310 million guns in America today. The ones the criminals have or want are the semi-automatics or worse. Not the revolver from the 1960's in your uncle's garage or the musket in your grandfather's attic. Linda Greenstein's idea will be very Linda Greenstein. It will sound great in a campaign ad. Which isn't worth us coughing up another $2 million in tax money.

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