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With all the gun rhetoric being thrown at people today, via the media, Internet and social outlets, how can one keep up? The basic breakdown is that Congress is still pondering whether to support an assault-weapons ban and universal background checks for gun owners.

In the meantime, several states are offering gun “buyback” programs to try to decrease the number of guns on the streets in their communities.

For example, New Jersey has held several of these community events, receiving a reported 2,600 guns, while only 700 were illegal. The local government claims most of these guns were destroyed. The program is fairly simple. Guns in good working condition were valued at $150 and nonworking condition granted $50 for the buyback program. The police are not required to run checks on the weapons or serial numbers; therefore, there is no way of knowing if these guns were stolen, used in crimes or are murder weapons. In fact, people can simply surrender their weapons without any questions and receive cash or a cash-type voucher. This program in New Jersey paid out $324,000 from a state criminal forfeiture-funding program, but ultimately they ran out of cash and had to issue more than $100,000 in vouchers.

These “no questions asked” programs are becoming more popular and sometimes, local governments will later check serial numbers to see if the gun was indeed stolen so it can be returned to the rightful owner.

These types of buyback programs can also be funded via public funds, individual donations, private foundations and even corporate gifts.

Other popular buyback programs have been held in Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Seattle, with gun owners submitting rocker launchers, rifles, shotguns and handguns in return for cold, hard cash. However, the National Rifle Association cites statistics that show that these programs are “complete failures and a waste of taxpayer dollars.” Additionally, they show that the average person who submits a weapon voluntarily for a buyback program is not a criminal and most firearms still remain in possession of criminals, who rely on them to feed their criminal lifestyles.

Supporters of buyback programs believe that it helps get guns off the streets, lowering crime rates and ultimately saving lives. Many people submit their guns after violent acts are reported in the media, for example, the Sandy Hook massacre, which saw a record number of guns being exchanged for money.

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