The Gun Buyback Pays Off

Anonymous Firearms Swap for Gift Cards Leads to Multiple Benefits

Credit: Bill Day,

As Santa Barbara County’s District Attorney, I’ve heard many false claims about gun buybacks. Some include: gun buybacks are a waste of time and money; gun buybacks don’t work — the only guns that are brought in aren’t operable; gun buybacks are a way for law enforcement to trap people who possess guns unlawfully or possess a gun that has been used in a crime; and, gun buybacks are a way for do-gooders to feel good!

I offer my responses: No. No. No. And Yes!

On Saturday, August 21, 2021, Santa Barbara will be hosting its 6th Gun Buyback at the Earl Warren Showgrounds from 8 a.m. until noon. The past gun buybacks are the brainchild of Toni Wellen of the Coalition Against Gun Violence and supported by the Santa Barbara Police Department. For years this life-saving event was pushed aside by myths and misconceptions like the ones above.

Another controlling factor is that some in our community have a mistaken belief that this is an anti-gun event; this was never true. This gun buyback has always been focused on gun violence prevention. Therefore, I believe gun buybacks can be one of the important actions we can take, as a community, to save lives.

My detailed responses to some of these misconceptions:

Gun Buybacks are not a waste of time, because they not only reduce the inventory of guns that can ultimately be used in crimes, but also reduce the potential that guns can be used to accidentally kill loved ones or perpetrate the heart-breaking tragedy of suicide.

In fact, data suggests that buybacks have led to a drop in the firearm suicide rates of almost 80 percent.

The guns that are turned in are operable or can easily become operable. In fact in the past, working assault rifles have been turned in, and we expect some additional ones will be turned in on August 21.

The buybacks are not a trap because they are in fact anonymous.

Now, as to the last often-heard comments that gun buybacks make do-gooders feel good; that is in fact true. This is why many members of our community, including myself, both sponsor this event and/or volunteer. We do it because it can potentially save lives and demonstrates community policing at its finest. If you want to join us, please click on this link to learn more:

In conclusion, I believe the Santa Barbara County gun buyback can be a life-saving event, and who among us would not feel great doing just that!


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