Good motives for buybacks

The front-page article ``Gun Exchanges Gain Popularity in Major Cities, but May Not Reduce Violence,'' Jan. 27, seems to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the gun buyback programs.

These efforts have attracted support or are planned in at least 49 cities. They are often initiated by citizens; it is unfortunate that some people dismiss them as corporate ``grandstanding.''

Here in Boston, more than 500 citizens and 48 businesses contributed $70,000 to buy back 1,302 working guns last summer.

The businesses that gave money were not asked in most cases, they simply responded to a tangible method of ridding the streets of the weapons most responsible for the murder and mayhem that terrifies households and neighborhoods.

In the United States, about 53,000 guns have been retired by these methods. Ottawa and Toronto have retired another 31,000, along with 750,000 rounds of ammunition. The programs are popular largely because the government does not adequately control the proliferation of guns (one is manufactured every 20 seconds), nor does it regulate guns to make sure they are safe, as it does with automobiles.

Finally, the Brookings Institution in Washington has recommended a national gun buyback.

Unless we do something in the short term to get rid of these weapons, or at least control them, the murder rate is not going to subside.

Buybacks send a powerful message that guns are unsafe. The positive response to them from corporations and communities is just good business. Lewis S. Dabney, Boston

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