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In the gun debate, both sides agree that buybacks don’t work


When Mayor Mike McGinn called a press conference with King County officials to announce a gun buyback program Dori was skeptical about the results.

Dori’s biggest objection is that hardened criminals, who are the biggest problem, are not going to be the ones that are turning in guns.

Surprisingly, the spokesman of CeaseFire Washington, a “grass-roots organization dedicated to ending gun violence” agrees with Dori.

“Buy-backs are limited in their effectiveness,” says spokesman Ralph Fascitelli.

In 1992 the city did its first – and only other – gun buyback. Though many people turned in their guns, the program did not accomplish its goals. As the Seattle PI reported, statistics show that the number of firearm related deaths actually increased in years after the buyback.

In light of those statistics, Ralph sees the incentive program as more of a well-intentioned PR stunt to show that the city is trying to do something to reduce gun violence.

“We give them an A for effort, we’re glad they’re concerned but it’s not our first choice,” says Ralph. “I think research shows on a return-on-investment basis it’s not the best. I think it’ll move the dial a little bit but I think there are things we could see a higher ROI on.”

He says that his organization would prefer to see the city launch an education campaign on the risks of having a gun in the home. But the buyback, he says, is a good first step in the right direction.

When it comes to an actual strategy to try to reduce gun violence, Dori and Ralph couldn’t disagree more.

As gun control advocates, CeaseFire Washington has a wide array of suggestions for the city, including a ban on assault weapons, closing the gun show loophole, and giving law enforcement greater jurisdiction in deciding who gets a concealed weapons permit. And Ralph thinks the state constitution, which doesn’t allow cities to make stronger gun control laws than there are at the state level, is a barrier to public safety.

“The city is really hamstrung on what they can do in this issue,” says Ralph.

But Dori doesn’t think those kinds of restrictions are going to be effective in decreasing gun violence. Many of the people involved in recent mass shootings, like Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, got guns illegally.

Dori thinks that mental health is the bigger problem. Given the number of guns in the country, Dori doesn’t see taking away guns from good people as a solution.

“I think it’s a fantasy to think that gun legislation is going to keep the guns that you deem bad out of the hands of bad people,” said Dori.

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