Thursday, February 10, 2005

Willful Ignorance in Jersey City

I stumbled on this article (registration required) in the New York Times this morning. It was about a foolish program known as a gun buyback. This act of lunacy happened in Jersey City and of course the “director of the Police Department” was happy that residents brought in 897 firearms yesterday.

The guns ranged
…from pink-handled 'Saturday night specials' to midnight-black machine guns.... More than half were handguns.
Now, I suspect that the “machine guns” were not really machine guns. It is more likely they were semi-automatic “assault weapons” rather than full-fledged automatics. I could be wrong since I was not there, but given the ignorance of the press, this seems more likely.

The city called the program “Operation Lifesaver.” My, what a cute name. Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and toasty inside that the cops can disarm its citizens and make them feel good about it? The problem many buybacks face is that most of the surrendered guns belong to law-abiding citizens who would not commit a crime with a gun in the first place. A widow may bring in a gun that her late husband owned, a man might bring in guns that once belonged to his father and the gun fearing wussy of a son wants to get rid of them, and…well you get the idea.

Sometimes, a criminal might bring in a crime gun to get rid of it at a profit--did I tell you already that there were no questions asked. They offered total amnesty and I am sure that would include non-prosecution of violations of New Jersey’s notoriously harsh gun laws.

The prices the city paid were surprisingly high for programs such as this:
…$150 for handguns, rifles or shotguns, $250 for automatic weapons and $25 for BB guns.
Again, the automatic weapons and again the raised eyebrow of doubt. Some of the guns doubtlessly were worth more than the offered amount; however, some were probably worth a lot less than the buyback price. It is conceivable that a few were collector’s pieces that should not be destroyed.

What is most disturbing is the response to the buyback. So many people showed up that the police department ran out of cash and issued vouchers. They were taking in one gun about every two minutes at seven different collection centers. What is wrong with the people of Jersey City that they would voluntarily disarm themselves? Granted, a few people may have turned in an old, broken gun for the cash to buy a better gun. But, I am willing to bet that most of the participants are now disarmed.

The attitude of Jersey City’s mayor, Jerramiah T. Healy, is galling. When questioned about the efficacy of gun buybacks he said,
These 897 guns that we got off the street are not going to be able to threaten, injure or kill anyone here in Jersey City…So whatever those studies say, I totally disagree with it.
Talk about willful ignorance.

Last year, the city had 25 murders, 15 of them committed with guns. That means at least 882 of the collected firearms had killed no one that year. The city paid $115,725.00 tax dollars that could have better been spent in catching real criminals not in removing guns from the hands of its law-abiding citizens or in helping criminals make a profit from a stolen gun or one they used in a crime.

Oh well. New Jersey is a lost cause in our fight for gun rights. The story is just more proof of this theory.

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