Research findings on the effectiveness of gun buy-backs, fail to capture one element of the value proposition. The evaluations show that buy-backs don’t buy back many crime guns or likely crime guns. However the programs can add this value: marshaling the attention and some resources that otherwise would not materialize. They can get people talking about changing, rather than just episodically lamenting, the problem. This outcome was part of the initial buy-back in Boston in the 1990’s.
Thousands of influential people who could not otherwise identify with the gun terror in the inner city got a lens through which they could see. With what became Operations Cease Fire and Nite Lite at the head of the march, Boston mobilized to reduce gun violence. It gave people lunching at the Four Seasons a way to get behind changing what was happening in Four Corners. This was not a critical element. But it helped. Such a mobilization could help again.