One of the stupidest ideas to emerge in the public mind is the idea of gun buybacks. NYC is happily announcing the collection of 919 guns at a price of $200 per gun.

To put this in perspective:

There are some 250 million guns in this country, according to most estimates.

According to the Department of Justice, about half a million gun crimes are committed each year. Assuming no gun is used twice, that means about one in 500 guns will be used to commit a crime. NYC’s buyback has therefore prevented, perhaps, two crimes at a cost of $159,000. If, instead, they had hired a couple of cops, they might have prevented more than two crimes.

The CDC estimates about 90,000 people are injured or killed by guns. So NYC’s buyback would prevent deaths at a rate of half a million dollars per life. If half a million dollars were used to train and hire emergency room physicians, they could prevent a lot more than one injury or death.

Of course, only about a third of those casualties are fatal. And half of those are suicides. So NYC’s buyback may have prevent 1/20th of a murder at a cost of $3 million per life. You can see where this is going.

Now I’ll grant you that my simplistic analysis uses national averages and guns are more dangerous in cities. But you’ll have to grant me that gun buybacks produce an incentive to steal guns and a method to dump guns used in the commission of crimes.

No matter how you slice it, gun buybacks are a waste of time and money. But they do make officials feel better about themselves. That’s the point, I guess.