Matt Miller, in the Washington Post, suggests we “Buy back guns, boost the economy“:
… This past Mother’s Day, a buyback program in Los Angeles brought in 1,650 guns, each in exchange for a prepaid Visa or grocery-store card of up to $200, depending on the gun. Police departments in the District, New York, Detroit, Boston, Baltimore and elsewhere have organized such buybacks, often partnering with churches in communities devastated by gun violence.
Each of these buybacks has been small. But the only limit to their scale is our imagination. Australia’s experience shows what it looks like when you aim high…
The government purchased and destroyed 700,000 weapons between 1996 and 1998 – about one-fifth of Australia’s estimated stock of firearms. That would be like destroying 50 million guns in America today.
The Australian “outlaw and repurchase” option is one approach. But if Congress balks at banning certain weapons entirely, there’s an all-American answer: Make gun owners an offer they can’t refuse. Instead of a measly $200 a gun, Uncle Sam might offer $500. After all, overpaying powerful constituencies to achieve public policy goals is a time-honored American tradition; we do it every day with Medicare drug benefits and defense contractors, to name just two.
So imagine a $100 billion, one-time program aimed at buying back 200 million firearms at $500 a pop. We issue the payments in prepaid credit cards that expire in three months (good thinking, Los Angeles!) to be sure the money is spent fast.
Presto! So long as the federal money is borrowed, we get an immediate boost to demand, jobs and growth. And with long-term interest rates at all-time lows, there’s never been a better time for the feds to overpay gun owners and get these weapons out of circulation. The president can even pitch selling a gun to Uncle Sam as a patriotic act — part of a national rethinking of our gun culture in the wake of Newtown…