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Seattle launches new gun buyback program

In the wake of Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings, city leaders want to do something immediate to get guns off the street.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Jan 9, 2013 6:44PM

In an effort to remove illegal guns from city streets, Seattle is hosting its first gun buyback since 1992 on Saturday, Jan. 26. Seattle and King County leaders said they've raised $100,000 to launch the program. Anyone who turns in weapons will receive up to a $100 gift card in exchange for handguns, shotguns and rifles, and a $200 gift card in exchange for assault weapons, reports The Seattle Times.

Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

The effectiveness of such programs has been highly debated by both pro- and anti-gun groups.

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A 2004 report by the National Academies’ Committee on Law and Justice cites, “Those who are either using guns to carry out crimes or as protection in the course of engaging in other illegal activities, such as drug selling, have actively acquired their guns and are unlikely to want to participate in such programs.”

The report cites the following three main flaws in gun buyback programs:

1.      Guns that are typically surrendered in gun buy-backs are those that are least likely to be used in criminal activities. They tend to be either old, malfunctioning guns whose resale value is less than the reward offered in buy-back programs or guns owned by individuals who derive little value from the possession of the guns (e.g., those who have inherited guns).

2.     Replacement guns are relatively easily obtained, the actual decline in the number of guns on the street may be smaller than the number of guns that are turned in.

3.     The likelihood that any particular gun will be used in a crime in a given year is low.

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Participants need not worry about being arrested, reports SFGate.com. Police won't take photos or record license plates. They will run serial numbers to see if the weapons have been stolen; if so, ballistics tests will be performed and officers will try to return the weapons to their legal owners, said Seattle Police Deputy Chief Nick Metz.

"This isn't a trick, and this isn't a sting. Whether you're turning an anti-tank missile launcher you 'found' in your basement, or your Gammie's old .45, the buyback is anonymous with no questions asked," the police department said in a statement.

The 1992 buyback netted 1,700 handguns, despite an estimated 1.8 million guns in King County. Seattle had 27 homicides last year, but 23 of them were in the first five months.

Bing: Will gun buyback programs end violence?

"I want to be clear. This is just one tool in the toolbox. This isn't going to solve our problems," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said at a news conference at Mount Zion Baptist Church.

“If the program averted one gun tragedy, it was worthwhile,” McGinn was quoted.

Do gun buyback programs make a difference? Why or why not?

More from MSN Living:
Mansion made from trash
2012's worst words
10 facts about guns in America

Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

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