Buyback guns in the US?

Joe Biden says he wants to get assault weapons off the streets

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Will a buyback programme get guns off the streets?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

After two mass shootings within 24 hours, leaving over 30 people dead, the United States is asking questions about its gun culture.

There have been calls for the sales of assault weapons to be banned. Democratic primary candidate Joe Biden has suggested a national buyback programme for these types of guns.

However, experts warn that it could be complicated to establish.

The Claim

Biden wants to establish a national buyback programme for assault weapons to "get them off the street".

The Democrat said: "That's not walking into their home, walking through their door and going through the gun cabinets, etc.

"Right now, there is no legal way to deny them the right if they legally purchased them, but we can in fact make a major effort to get them off the street and out of the possession of people."

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, the former vice president also said assault weapons should be illegal.

He said: "The Second Amendment doesn't say you can't restrict the kinds of weapons people own. You can't buy a bazooka or a flamethrower."

When asked whether a Biden administration would "come for my guns", he replied: "Bingo. You're right if you have an assault weapon."

The Counterclaim

However, Lacey Wallace, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Pennsylvania State University, warns that a national buyback programme sounds like a great idea - but it's not as simple as that.

In an article for The Conversation, she says that she has been studying American attitudes to guns for years. Wallace argues that gun owners "feel strongly about their identities as gun owners", and this makes it difficult to create a strategy for taking guns off the streets.

She writes: "US cities have experimented with buybacks on a much smaller scale, even though the Pew Research Centre reports that more than 70 per cent of gun owners say they could never imagine themselves not owning some sort of firearm."

Wallace also notes that previous buyback programmes have placed no restrictions on the types of guns that can be purchased, and this is taken advantage of.

She explains: "Civilians frequently bring in old firearms, guns in disrepair, rifles, or shotguns.

"Sacramento, California, implemented a gun buyback programme in 1993. Nearly a quarter of all guns submitted were not in working order."

The Facts

In 2017, there were an estimated 393 million guns in the United States, excluding firearms owned by the police and military.

The US has the largest civilian-owned stock of guns in the world, owning 45.8 per cent of the world's guns. More than 40 per cent of adults live in a household with at least one gun.

In the United States, there are 120.5 guns per 100 people. The next country with the highest gun ownership rate is the Yemen with 52.8 guns per 100 people.

According to the BBC, the rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm is the highest in the developed world. In 2017, there were almost 11,000 deaths in the US as a result of murder or manslaughter involving guns.

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