Oakland Police Try to Corner the Market in Guns


Speaking of lame gun control schemes, the Independent Institute's Alex Tabarrok takes aim at gun buy-back programs in The Oakland Tribune and blows them to kingdom come:

In an authoritative study, the National Academy of Sciences reported that "the theory underlying gun buy-back programs is badly flawed and the empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs."…

Imagine that instead of guns, the Oakland police decided, for whatever strange reason, to buy back sneakers. The idea of a gun buyback is to reduce the supply of guns in Oakland. Do you think that a sneaker buyback program would reduce the number of people wearing sneakers in Oakland? Of course not.

All that would happen is that people would reach into the back of their closet and sell the police a bunch of old, tired, stinky sneakers.

Gun buybacks won't reduce the number of guns in Oakland. In fact, buybacks may increase the number of guns in Oakland.

Imagine that gun dealers offered a guarantee with every gun: Whenever this gun gets old and wears down, the dealer will buy back the gun for $250.

The dealer's guarantee makes guns more valuable, so people will buy more guns.

But the story is exactly the same when it's the police offering the guarantee.

At $250 per gun, the Oakland program cost $250,000, most of which was not even budgeted. Tabarrok notes that "the first two people in line at one of the three buyback locations were gun dealers with 60 firearms packed in the trunk of their car." He wonders why police don't cut out the middlemen and buy guns directly from manufacturers.

[Thanks to Don Boudreaux for the tip.]

NEXT: Balko Speaking in New York

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  1. If I were down there (thank God I’m not), I’d make a whole bunch of zip-guns and sell them. What a racket.

  2. Brilliant thinking folks. I’m in awe of your finely honed critical thinking skills.

    As I see it, this program has three options.

    A) Offer more than the guns are worth. You’ll collect the most that way and allow people to upgrade at not cost to themselves, or just profit at taxpayer expense.

    B) Offer the actual value of the guns. You’ll collect firearms that wouldn’t be used from owners too lazy to market them. You’ll also need a skilled appraiser so you don’t get took.

    C) Offer less than the going rate. Nobody shows up.

    But I don’t have a college degree, so I’m probably talking out my ass.

  3. I know of at least one individual who turned in a number of non-functional and broken firearms to a gun buy-up, and then used the money he was given to help fund an organized rifle program for youths in his area.

  4. Mediageek- good story

    Once upon a time, schools (like the one I attended in the frozen wastes of upstate N Y) had gun clubs, and competitive shooting teams; surprisingly enough, I cannot recall any self-inflicted gunshot wounds, much less mass murders, arising from this deadly recklessness.

  5. We already knew that bureaucrats are stupid when it comes to how they should use other peoples money.

  6. How about incomplete guns?

    A barrel
    an upper
    a lower

    thrice the buck for the bang

  7. I once traded my city’s cops an ancient (and broken) POS pistol, along with a home made zip gun (car antenna barrel with rubber band action), for two tickets to a baseball game.

  8. Sorry, but I love gun buy-back programs. How the hell do you think I get rid of the old ones that don’t work!

    Cops like them too. Cops sell their own old guns which don’t work.

  9. Since it’s a “no questions asked” buyback program, I can’t think of a better incentive to start stealing guns. The perfect fence!

  10. In reality, this is something of an outrage.
    The right to bear arms is enshrined in our constitution, just as the right to a free press is.
    Suppose the government tried to buy every copy of a newspaper that had an article they didn’t like; people would rightly be up in arms. (Pardon the archaic expression; people interested in their liberties won’t have any arms soon enough)

  11. I have to ask, did they do background checks on the buyers? Enforce waiting periods and purchase limits? This is California. It’s not like buying a gun is easy.

  12. Do the cops buying the guns go through the FFL process, or is it considered a “private” sale?

    Personally, I’d bring an FFL holder with me if (ha ha) I ever sold a gun to the man.

    I watched an old lady bring her recently deceased hubby’s Colt Single Action into the cops one day for destruction (it happened in Canada, where that’s the fate of cop-received firearms) and a few days later I saw the cop shooting it at the range.

    He was probably just “testing it for function” before it was chopped up. Makes sense to do that to all guns destined for scrap – right?

  13. Maurkov | February 27, 2008, 3:18pm | #
    I have to ask, did they do background checks on the buyers? Enforce waiting periods and purchase limits? This is California. It’s not like buying a gun is easy.

    I see Maurkov beat me to it by a few minutes. Right on!

  14. So I can actually go buy every piece of shit gun for under $100 at every pawn shop from here to Cali and make a cool $150+ in profit each no questions asked? I bet there were gun dealers unloading all their old, broken and POS guns they couldn’t give away before they started being offered $250 a pop for them.

    What a wonderful way to subsidize the upgrade of weapons.

  15. I have to ask, did they do background checks on the buyers?

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. Are you referring to the Oakland police?

    If so, Law Enforcement Officers are pretty much excempt from just about all of the firearm regulations (both as individuals and as collectives; ie the police Department) that the rest of us peasants have to follow. They’re that special.

  16. They’re that special.

    Did anyone else hear this line in their head as if it was spoken by the Church Lady?

    I just wish I had more clunker guns, but I’ve trimmed my collection. But if I did I’d still take an FFL holder with me – as ass cover.

  17. Pink Pistol Andrew Greene routinely scores $mucho via these buybacks in Phila. It’s also a good place to meet others who might own collectibles.

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