Arms for Jobs
By Oscar Gordon
I am not a big fan of gun buyback programs, because they are all about signalling, and have absolutely zero impact on crime or the number of firearms out there. At best they can get old, probably malfunctioning firearms off the street, at worst, they are a waste of money as they often pay $100-$200 for junk pieces. They are all for show, to get air time on the news, and a terrible (albeit small) waste of resources.
However, this gun buy back is different. This gun buy back can actually make a huge difference in a lot of lives. This effort can actually reduce crime & violence because it lowers opportunity costs to gain access to some very skilled training, training which, if completed successfully, can lead to very well paid work that can break a cycle of criminal behavior.
Here, the gun is more than a hunk of metal & plastic. It’s a signal, perhaps a promise, that a person wants to exchange the violence trade for a much more constructive one. And huge kudos to the Boilermakers for doing something exceptionally positive for their community. If only half of those who take up the offer complete the training, the benefit to Pittsburg will still be worth orders of magnitude more than a handful of gift cards.