About Buybacks | FAQ

Gun buybacks provide a safe, anonymous way to people to dispose of unwanted and illegal guns. They effectively reduce the rate of gun ownership in a community when properly implemented, which reduces the likelihood of guns falling into the wrong hands and directly correlates with fewer homicides, suicides, and accidental gun deaths in a community[i].

Buybacks are typically single-day events held in partnership between law enforcement and community groups where anyone can turn in a gun, no questions asked, and receive some compensation for them. All of the guns collected through buybacks funded by GunXGun are destroyed.

The primary motivation for people participating in gun buybacks is to make their homes and communities safer. Based on anonymous survey data collected, many participants never wanted the gun in the first place (20%). The overwhelming majority of participants in our buybacks do not intend to buy another gun (87%), and have effectively made their homes gun-free by participating in the buyback (70%).

Frequently Asked Questions

Do gun buybacks work?

The short answer is yes. On the participant level, they produce material reductions in the likelihood of gun violence occurring in a home. At the community level, we know that they reduce the rates gun violence when implemented at sufficient scale. In Australia, for example, a large scale gun buyback effort reduced the rate of firearm homicide by 59% and firearm suicide by 74% in the years following.

To date, gun buybacks in the U.S. have occurred infrequently and on a relatively small scale. As a result, they have not demonstrated an impact on macro gun violence statistics. We believe that this is not an indictment of the model, rather, a reflection of their limited reach.

Our approach allows gun buybacks to achieve the necessary frequency and scale to deliver results. On top of that, we're collecting unprecedented data on gun buybacks to understand how to improve the way they are implemented and increase their impact. 

How do buybacks prevent criminals from obtaining guns?

While buybacks do remove a number of illegal guns from circulation, any gun that is not properly stored can easily fall into the hands of a criminal. Experts estimate that roughly 50% of guns used in crimes are stolen from law-abiding citizens or otherwise illegally obtained. Each year in the United States, there are an estimated 500,000 guns stolen from homes where they were not properly stored.

Don't people just turn in old and non-working guns?

Not in our gun buybacks. We work with range specialists from local law enforcement to inspect each weapon and ensure it's operable. We don't pay people for guns that don't work. Early buybacks held during the 90's used to have this problem, however, law enforcement quickly figured out how to fix it.

How do you know people aren't just buying more guns with the money they receive?

This is an important question. Based on existing research of buybacks and data we've collected, the vast majority of people participating in buybacks don't intend to buy another gun. Because of the way buybacks are structured (and the incentives offered), a well-informed gun owner who intends to buy additional guns is not likely to participate in the buyback. We are actively collecting data from the buybacks we fund to ensure this does not change and figure out ways to further improve it.

What happens to the guns that are turned in?

All of the guns turned in at buybacks we fund are destroyed. The specifics of how this happens are usually determined by the local law enforcement, who operates the buyback and assumes possession of the guns collected. Most commonly, the guns are melted down and the scrap metal is recovered.