Recently a Lutheran church participated in a gun buy-back program in New York in the wake of the tragic shooting of a career police officer. It is run by the New York Police Department in an effort to get more guns off the streets. As an NRA member such programs admittedly raise questions for me, especially regarding effectiveness. I believe that guns should be used safely and legally and support any effort that will strengthen that discipline. However, it would seem that this well-meaning (but misdirected) effort is not as effective as supporters would like it be. On the site NewYorkDefenseLawyer.com the author notes: "It’s true that offering $200 for a weapon will likely draw people to bring in their firearms. But, more interestingly, how many of these people are bringing in all of their weapons and how many are simply bringing in the ones they don’t have a desire to use anymore? It is difficult to measure the actual effectiveness of these programs and there are differing opinions about their effectiveness. Law enforcement typically says that these programs do work. Any firearm they collect is a firearm not being used on the street. The likelihood that the firearms turned in would have been used in a violent crime is probably very rare."
As one who remains active in my own community with concern for others outside the walls of my church, I would encourage churches to be discerning in how they choose to offer their services to the governing authorities. It is not always a matter of engaging in symbolic gestures that look good to some, but end up simply lending our support to efforts that have no proven track records of success. As Christians we all want to see a lessening of violent crime. To that end we support our law enforcement departments with prayer that the Almighty would protect them and use them as effective instruments of defense on our behalf. A gun buy-back effort, though sponsored by a law enforcement agency, carries more political baggage than we may realize and in the end may not truly contribute to their safety or our own.
We have many laws in this country governing the use of firearms, some of them quite strict. Enforcement of these laws should be the greater priority of our authorities, not attempts to take from the citizens the ability to protect their own lives under the Second Amendment. I highly suspect that true criminals are not turning their guns in at these collections, and that very few of these collected guns, if any, would ever have been used in violent crimes. We need to go after the criminals directly, not indirectly.