I haven’t seen figures for the entire year, but if what happened in Baltimore this past October had any predictive value, this year’s homicide number might come close to the all-time homicide number set in 2017. Which is why I found the media response to a year-end gun buyback program conducted by the Baltimore Police Department to be not only puzzling, but frankly, stupidly-wrong as well.
Here was the headline in the Baltimore Sun: “Gun buybacks don’t work.” To bolster this viewpoint, the reporter, Max Meizlish, went on and on about how the decision to pay Baltimore residents $25 for a high-capacity gun magazine, with a limit of 2 magazines per donor, made the program “ripe for abuse.”
Why? Because according to Meizlish, you can buy a hi-cap magazine on the internet for $9 to $15, which means that a quick online purchase followed by a trip to the buyback site would net someone at least a profit of $10 bucks. To sum up, “Anyone looking for a quick payday need not look any further; the City of Baltimore was apparently ready and eager to double their money at the taxpayer’s expense.”
I always thought that the Baltimore Sun, which has been around since before the Civil War, maintained some degree of journalistic standards. But everyone in the editorial department must have been out celebrating the holidays when Meizlish submitted this article which is simply wrong and simply dumb.
Let’s start with his claim, without any source at all, that hi-cap magazines are available on the internet for $9 bucks. The website that specializes in discounted gun accessories is known as Cheaper Than Dirt. Get it, cheaper than dirt? Here’s a link to the page which allows you to drill down and purchase hi-cap magazines for just about any caliber and any gun. I surfed through the magazines for Glock, Beretta, Kahr and CZ, brand names of handguns commonly found in the street. Know how many magazines they are selling for less than $25 bucks? None.
And by the way, if you live in Maryland and decide to buy a hi-cap mag from Cheaper Than Dirt, when you put in the shipping address and/or the zip code of your credit card, the purchase won’t go through. Hi-cap magazines are illegal in Maryland, as they are in a number of other states, and the online sellers are wary about getting hit with a visit from the ATF because they shipped one of these magazines to a resident of what is known, thanks to George Washington, as The Old Line State.
Incidentally, if you read through Meizlish’s entire story, he repeats again and again that the Baltimore buyback was a dud, but you might notice that nowhere does he state the number of guns or hi-cap magazines that were actually turned in. Now you would think that if he was so intent on proving that the buyback was nothing more than a scam at taxpayer’s expense, at the very least he would tell us how much this useless effort actually cost the public purse.
Here’s Meizlish’s ultimate judgement on Baltimore’s gun buyback program: “Perhaps instead of doling out dollars to support these buybacks, Baltimore City’s elected officials could find a way to better support law enforcement and increase the number of officers patrolling the city’s streets. Tried and true policing produces results. Misguided and poorly executed buybacks do not.”
Let me break the news to this reporter who knows absolutely nothing about buybacks or guns. Gun violence isn’t going to be reduced with an either-or approach. A buyback is one of many tools which need to be used in our efforts to protect our communities from the threat represented by guns. But to say that until and unless Baltimore puts enough cops on the street, that buybacks are a waste of money and time is to say something that is simply not true.
Sorry Max, but your story is nothing more than fake news.