The Mayor of St. Louis Lyda Krewson (D) announced a “radical” approach to addressing the ever-increasing gun crime problem in her city. In 2017, the city has seen 197 murders, 185 of which were committed with a gun; other gun related crimes have also been noted issues. In response to this, Mayor Krewson has decided to implement a system whereby people can hand in a firearm and receive a grocery card in return.
“The level of violence in our city is at a crisis level,” Mayor Krewson said at a press conference. “I think it is apparent to most of us that we are awash in guns. They’re being used to settle differences, defend territory, retaliate, take cars, do holdups.”
While she may have the best of intentions at heart, the scheme is almost certainly doomed to failure.
This is not the first time that a gun buyback scheme has been tried in St. Louis. During previous efforts, people would turn in antiques or non-firing firearms and walk away with their “payment.” The reality is that this has been tried, tested, and it has failed. It does nothing of value other than making the politicians appear as though they care.
No criminal who has used a gun in a crime will hand that weapon in; the chances of them being implicated are too high. They would have to remove all evidence from the weapon, use a fake name, hand the weapon over while wearing a plastic contamination suit, to avoid being called in on a crime they may have committed. So it will not stop habitual criminals. A criminal with a gun can get all the groceries, or cash for groceries they need. Which is the city’s current dilemma.
What about people who use a gun in anger? These people are often caught, because it is an incident of domestic violence or a violent altercation. So the very few people who have used a weapon in this way and not been caught, are not going to hand them in.
Who does that leave?
The only people who might do this are those that have never used their firearm illegally. Those who have it for protection only and are in desperate need of groceries. All this will do is remove their longterm means of protection to provide for a short term immediate need. Pawing a ring or a TV would provide for such need without leaving them defenseless.
Even if some guns do get handed in, it will only be from law-abiding citizens. So the end result will be a population more at risk than ever before from violent armed criminals. The only two beneficiaries of this plan are the Mayor herself and criminals. Mayor Krewson gets to appear as though she cares about young blacks being murdered while disarming more citizens to become victims.
Armed law-abiding citizens are not the problem. Guns are not the problem. Gangs and drugs ARE the problem in St. Louis and most major cities. Especially those with the strictest gun laws. As the Mayor said, guns are being used to “settle differences, defend territory, retaliate, take cars, do holdups.” All gang and drug related activities. Perhaps Mayor Krewson would have more luck handing out grocery cards for information on drug and gang activity.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.