Do Gun Buybacks Make A Difference?

Mayor Walsh is insisting that this buyback will be different -- that it will include safety education for the public, and outreach to parents concerned that their children might have guns. (Mel Evans/AP)

Law enforcement officials have used gun buybacks for years in an effort to get guns off the street and out of the hands of criminals — but many argue the program serves as little more than a clean-out opportunity for legal gun owners. (Mel Evans/AP)

Boston is planning a large-scale gun buyback program in an effort to reduce violent crime, a move that comes after a 9-year-old boy was shot and killed last week in Mattapan, allegedly by his 14-year-old brother.

But many people question the effectiveness of gun buybacks. Studies have shown that buyback programs rarely take in guns used in violent crimes.

But Boston Mayor Marty Walsh insists that this buyback will be different. He says it will include safety education for the public and outreach to parents concerned that their children might have guns. He also disregards critics who call the program fruitless.

“Maybe most people have too much time on their hands to be critical of the program,” said Walsh. “You get a gun off the street. Nobody knows if that gun potentially would have been used down the road for a shooting. So I don’t govern by listening to what the critics say; I govern by what I think is effective and hearing other people.”

WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer speaks with a criminal justice expert about the effectiveness of guy buyback programs.


David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He directed the Boston Gun Project in the 1990s and is the author of the 2012 book “Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship and the End of Violence in Inner-City America.”


The Boston Globe: Success Of Gun Buyback Programs Is Debated

  • “Grasping for solutions to a wave of shooting violence this year, punctuated last week by the death of a 9-year-old boy who was shot, allegedly by his 14-year-old brother in Mattapan, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the city would launch a large-scale buyback to help get guns off the street.”

Boston Magazine: Why Mayor Walsh’s Gun-Buyback Program Is Moronic

  • “I will give Walsh partial credit for one thing: as gun violence has soared once again to the forefront of Boston’s consciousness, he has taken to mouthing a common phrase of criminal-justice reformers: ‘We can’t arrest our way out of the problem.'”

Other stories from this show:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Host Meghna Chakrabarti introduces us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and brings us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m.

  • Listen: Weekdays, 3 p.m. on 90.9 FM
  • Live Call-In: (800) 423-TALK
  • Listener Voicemail: (617) 358-0607
Most Popular
This site is best viewed with: Firefox | Internet Explorer 9 | Chrome | Safari