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Do gun buy-back programs work? | News

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Do gun buy-back programs work?

Polk County, Florida - In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, law enforcement agencies around the country are taking aim at guns. Various buy-back programs are springing up.

Locally, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office has a swap planned for Saturday, where people can turn in any type of gun. And on Thursday, St. Pete Police re-launched a bounty program targeting criminals. 

"We're trying to get illegal guns off the street," said Chief Chuck Harmon at a news conference.

But do these efforts work?

Buy-backs offering gift cards for guns typically do get people turning over weapons. And even though those guns can no longer be stolen or played with by kids, Sheriff Grady Judd doesn't think those type of buy-backs are worth the effort.

"We got no return on our investment," said Judd of such buy-backs held in the past. "Because those aren't the firearms and those aren't the people committing violent crime in our community."

So that's why in 2010 Judd partnered with Crime Stoppers and offered $500 to tipsters who would point law enforcement to felons with guns. "We think $500 is a great motivator," Judd said at the time.

But in two years how many guns did that cash carrot get off the streets? Zero.

"Didn't work, didn't work," Judd says. "Many people just don't want to get involved and despite us telling them they're anonymous, they don't really believe it."

But Judd's not giving up on the program. He says that $500 deal is still on the table.

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