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Gun buybacks and violence prevention strategy

Gun buy-back programs are one way that law enforcement agencies try to respond to the problem of gun crime. Authorities sometimes view such programs as part of a larger strategy to address gun violence that also includes appropriate criminal prosecution and effective education efforts.

Of course, how effective gun buyback programs are depends a lot on the specific program. And how many guns are actually turned in during a buyback in a given area naturally depends to a considerable degree on how people respond to it.

In this post, let's look at a buyback program in one area of New Jersey, namely Middlesex County.

State and county officials announced last week that more than 800 handguns had been collected. The buyback also brought in a total of nearly 700 rifles and shotguns, as well as 60 assault weapons. There were also 170 illegal guns turned in. 

Most of the firearms collected in the buyback will be destroyed. But a few will be sent to the State Police Museum due to their historical interest.

It is good that authorities are seeking to address gun violence through ways that involve tactics other than weapons charges or other criminal enforcement actions.

After all, legislatures and prosecutors around the country have often focused too much on trying to enhance (lengthen) sentences by imposing additional penalties for using weapons during another offense.

Some legislatures have also created specific crimes for people who have served their sentences but violate prohibitions against weapons ownership following their release from prison.

Source: Noth, "N.J.'s latest gun buyback nets hundreds of weapons," Oct. 2, 2013

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