Gun buybacks are popular. But are they effective?

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Two weeks ago, more than 160 gun owners in Richmond, Virginia, turned in 474 firearms in the city’s first-ever gun buyback event. City officials offered Walmart, Amazon and Kroger gift cards in various amounts for different unwanted firearms: $250 for assault-style weapons, $200 for handguns, $150 for rifles and $25 for non-functioning guns. No questions asked.

The event’s organizer, community activist Pati Navalta, knows all too well that guns that are stolen or bought on the streets are used in crimes; the men who shot and killed her son, Robby Poblete, in September 2014 during an attempted robbery in Vallejo, California, obtained their handgun illegally.

After her son’s death, Navalta launched the Robby Poblete Foundation to support gun buyback events throughout the country. The events have been held in several cities in California — including Vallejo — along with Augusta, Georgia, and Richmond, Virginia, and have collected more than 2,000 firearms. Reducing the number of guns in communities is essential, said Navalta.

“It’s really difficult to quantify the number of crimes prevented or the number of lives saved with

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