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Gun buy back programs are used to try to cut down on the number of privately held weapons. Without being held responsible for violating the laws on gun bearing policies, the sellers, in this case the citizens, are given the opportunity to surrender their weapons to the government through the police. Within a country like the United States, these initiatives vary from nations to states. The practice has received praise for helping some American states cut down on the number of circulating firearms. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been playing a major role in informing the buyback programs through guaranteeing the safety of the gun bearers who are not subjected to background checks or other forms of investigations. The body further investigates whether the weapons were used for criminal activities or stolen from the law enforcement agencies. In California, people above the age of 55 years showed the greatest conformance; according to the study that was carried out in Sacramento, none of them were below the age of 25 in the buyback program (Romero et al., 1998).
The move to destroy the purchased guns has sparked a debate not only in California but also in other states and nations like Australia. Some policymakers argue that the destruction of guns recovered, even after the investigation whether they were connected to a crime, it is a major hindrance to obtaining evidence required to apprehend criminals. The policymakers further dispute that the programs are ineffective because the firearms surrendered are often the obsolete ones, rarely used for criminal activities. From the statistics of the age distribution of the complying population, a large number of people above the age of 40 years is used to argue that this age bracket will not be engaged in violent activities. Anti-buyback supporters therefore argue that the move is ineffective and less likely to gain traction in the case of California. These arguments are, however, contradictory when considering the outcomes in other states. In Los Angeles, the authorities applied a buyback program that saw more than 2000 unwanted weapons being recovered, including rocket launchers that were empty (Phillips et al., 2013).
From these negative aspects, the loopholes on the programs can be sealed to make the policy more effective. For example, there should be a balance between the firearm policies and the crime control objectives. A profound analysis of the program reveals that it has helped to save many lives through the safe disposal of the arms. It is reported that most of the weapons handed to the administration were left behind by family members, previous occupants of a building, or fleeing criminals. People willing to hand over these weapons should thus not be condemned because they are determined to make the environment less hostile.
In California, the buyback program has been amended severally in the assembly between 2013 and 2014 (Ridgeway, 2013). The motion was introduced in the assembly for discussions and evaluation in February 2013 after being regarded as reinforcing the section 6 of the penal code which is concerned with the rights to bear arms. Californian laws require that people surrender weapons to county sheriffs or the police chief at the municipal level. The weapons are later required to be auctioned, and if considered obsolete, they should be destroyed (Deutchman, 2011). The bill called for an immediate establishment of a buyback program which would be controlled by the sheriff and police departments. Besides, it recommended that half of the funds from the Department of Justice should be used for the purchasing practice.
The Gun Buy Back Program in California appreciated the role played by the community in making the program a success. Lawmakers agreed that half of the cost of the local program would be used for campaigns and public education in a bid to inform the Californians on the dangers associated bearing arms at home. Issues like domestic violence and homicides would be examined carefully. The public would also get a chance to dispose of the unwanted firearms that could make them potential crime suspects. The local police and the sheriff can enter into a memorandum of understanding with each other or the acceptable community-based organizations as provided in the section 501 of the revenue code (Monks, 2001). The Gun Buy Back program in California also gives room for the recovered firearms to be returned to their rightful owners. If the owners do not want the arms, then it is possible to have the weapons destroyed as per the provision of the stated laws.
Before appearing rather soft on the issue of bearing and returning weapons, California had been known to adopt some of the toughest laws on gun control in the country. The tough policies were adopted after the increasing reported cases of mass shootings. The ideas to have a Gun Buy Back program in California dates back to January 1989 when five people were reported to have lost their lives in Stockton. The casualties were refugee children of Asian origin. The culprit was believed to be mentally ill and shot 105 times at a playground (Spitzer, 2015). Later on, the state suffered from further losses in 1993's San Francisco incidence that left eight people dead. Most recently, California had to deal with a large blow that saw around 14 people dead at San Bernardino. The incidence made the Californian lawmakers make various gun control laws to control the manner in which the use of weapons was considered as fashionable. The Californian government therefore had to look for all the possible measures to reduce such incidences of murder. The Gun Buy Back program is promising as it served the same purpose of discouraging the use of ammunition in the community.
Developed nations of the world have been coming up with various forms of restrictions to control the availability of firearms within the territory. Some of the measures adopted include the complete ban of various firearms, enacting stricter licensing requirements, and a mandatory registration of firearms. The evaluation of the effectiveness of the regulations has proven to be a difficult task not only in America but in other nations as well. However, the Gun Buy Back program has helped to reduce the rate of homicide and suicide, a measurable aspect to prove the effectiveness of the well thought out program. In California, firearms homicides have reduced significantly over the last ten years. The Gun Buy Back program has been reinforcing the stricter gun control laws to control the rate of crimes, although there is a number of conflicts in the executions of these legislations. Instead of getting rid of the program, it is necessary to look for the ways to seal the existing loopholes because of the large number of citizens willing to comply in the re-sell business.
Conclusively, California continues to be at the top as far as the policies of bearing guns are concerned. It has adopted both soft and tough measures to reduce the percentage of people owning guns. The Gun Buy Back program is likely to guarantee the safety of the Californians before dealing with one of the causes of mass shootings. The government will only achieve this aim through the inclusion of the local community who should actively participate in the decision-making process in the internal matters. Other states can learn important lessons from the positive and the negative outcomes of these policies and tailor them to meet specific needs. There should be no arguments that only senior citizens will comply with the sheriffs and local polices' plead. Before disregarding the program, it is necessary to compare the firearms-related statistics before and after the introduction of the program through the analysis of the injuries, deaths, and crimes associated issues. Over time, all the people will learn about the benefits that accrue from having fewer people bearing arms making California a safe place for everyone. The Gun Buy Back programs in various parts of the world are therefore effective ways to voluntarily decrease the prevalence of handguns in any given community.
Deutchman, M. N. (2001). Getting the Guns: Implementation and Enforcement Problems withCalifornia Senate Bill 218. S. Cal. L. Rev., 75, 185.
Monks, J. (2001). The End of Gun Control or Protection against Tyranny: The Impact of theNew Wisconsin Constitutional Right to Bear Arms on State Gun Control Laws. Wis. L.Rev., 249.
Phillips, S. W., Kim, D. Y., & Sobol, J. J. (2013). An evaluation of a multiyear gun buy-back programme: re-examining the impact on violent crimes. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 15(3), 246-261.
Ridgeway, G. (2013, Jan. 4). Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies. National Institute of Justice memo. Retrieved from http://www.nraila.org/me
Romero, M. P., Wintemute, G. J., & Vernick, J. S. (1998). Characteristics of a gun exchange program, and an assessment of potential benefits. Injury Prevention, 4(3), 206-210.
Spitzer, R. J. (2015). Politics of gun control. Routledge.
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