Firearms buyback programs have swept the country in recent weeks, a reaction on the part of municipalities, organizations and concerned citizens to the tragic December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and the subsequent debate over how to combat gun violence. As we wrote in this week's Indy, the Montana chapter of the newly formed grassroots group Moms Demand Action is planning to host just such an event right here in Missoula. The trend has led to the voluntary exchange and destruction of hundreds of illegally obtained or illegally modified firearms nationwide.
The widespread success of recent buybacks seems to have caught some attention in Washington, D.C. A group of 19 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill late last week requiring the Attorney General to establish a federal grant program to fund firearms buyback programs like those already held in New Jersey, New York, Washington, California and elsewhere. Sponsored by Rep. Linda Sanchez of California, House Resolution 793 would establish the grant program by imposing a 10-percent excise tax on concealable firearms.
Sanchez unveiled the proposal to the public yesterday outside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. She delivered a speech, flanked by high-level Los Angeles law enforcement officials who are also supportive of the measure. The LA Times quoted Sanchez saying, "It is time to give our law enforcement agencies all the necessary resources to prevent gun violence." HR 793, which would impose the new tax on the sellers of concealable firearms, was introduced in the House on Feb. 15 and referred to the House Ways and Means and House Judiciary Committees. But as popular as gun buyback programs have proven this winter, it seems doubtful Sanchez's bill will fare any better than the hotly contested assault weapons ban; according to the prognosis on GovTrack.us, HR 793 has a 1 percent chance of making it onto the House floor.