Do gun buybacks really reduce crime?

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Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa look over weapons collected at an LA gun buyback event in May 2012. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

More than a 1,000 guns were surrendered at this past weekend’s gun buyback event, held throughout Los Angeles.

The city collected 516 handguns, 381 rifles, 226 shotguns and 49 assault weapons.  Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says during his administration, the anonymous gun buyback program has removed more than 11,000 guns from the street.

But is it doing anything to reduce crime? City officials believe so. But a 2004 report by the National Academy of Sciences found the guns typically surrendered in buyback programs are usually old or malfunctioning, and unlikely to be used in criminal activities.

KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis spoke with Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician at UC Davis Medical Center. He’s also director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the school.