The announcement that Seattle and King County are re-starting a local gun buy-back program begs a question: do they work?

The announcement that Seattle and King County are re-starting a local gun buy-back program begs a question: do they work?

It’s not a new idea – buy-backs in Seattle in 1992 hoovered up 1,172 firearms, nearly all of them handguns, although a good chunk of them didn’t work. It was popular, but an analysis found firearms-related robberies, assaults and homicides ticked up slightly after the buy-back.

Other reviews found scant evidence they work. Mother Jones, a friend of gun control, cast a jaundiced eye on them. In the venn diagram of buy-backs, the people want to give up their gun, and the people who do so, would be paper thin.

That said, we need a conversation about reasonable handgun control. The Public Data Feret, a great social-sciences blog, crunched the numbers on gun-buyer background checks and – hold your breath – found we are awash in guns in Washington.

True fixes fall to the Legislature. Until then, taking private money to a buy-back is straw in the ocean. But at least it’s a start.