Hartford, New Haven invest in gun safety
Connecticut as a state has taken the lead on gun safety, with Senators Murphy and Blumenthal fighting for higher standards in background checks, and advocating for the banning of bump stocks, which the resident’s administration followed suit with. While neither the president nor the senators are looking to take away the rights to a gun, there has been a movement to get illegal guns off the streets in two Connecticut cities, with New Haven and Hartford initiating gun buybacks at the end of last year.
A gun buyback program is unique in that it is a voluntary forfeiture of firearms with the promise of some sort of offer, most commonly gift certificates. According to an NPR story from early 2013, these programs date back as far as the 1960s, offering the community a chance to do something about gun violence. The most important feature of the program is that the police will take back the firearm with no questions asked about how the returner came to be in possession of that particular firearm.
In New Haven, police offered $25 for smaller pistols, $50 for rifles and shotguns, $100 for magazine and revolver-style handguns, and $200 for assault weapons, with similar amounts in Hartford. Both the Hartford and New Haven buybacks were held in partnership with The Injury Free Coalition for Kids of New Haven, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the Newtown Foundation.
Voluntary turnover back to top
Reports from the two police departments put the number of guns voluntarily handed in at 262, which includes seven assault rifles between the two departments.
In recent years, Hartford and New Haven have seen dramatic reductions in their gun related homicides with just 32 in 2018, when New Haven had 32 in 2011 alone. Everyone agrees that even one death is too many.
Gun buybacks are just one facet of gun reforms that will help stem violent gun related homicides. In Australia, these programs became part of a move to stem a gun violence epidemic in the mid-90s, and the country saw a dramatic reduction in gun deaths, from 2.9 per 100,000 in 1996 to 0.9 per 100,000 in 2016, according to TheConversation.com, which took a look at the effects of the countries suite of laws.
Most importantly, in America, the Second Amendment commonly understood provides the right to bear arms, and as such the benefit of a gun buyback is that no one is asked to relinquish their right to legally own a gun. The 262 guns that were handed in, were handed in of the free will of those that possessed the guns.
The goal of a buyback isn’t to imperil those rights, but to increase safety. If we look to places like Australia as a model, then gun buy backs will surely lead to safer cities.