Weekly Wonder: Guns recovered by Boston police, 2014-19

By Rachel Rock
BU News Service

BOSTON – The Boston Police Department recovered 3,394 guns from 2014-19, 65% of which were linked to criminal arrests, according to data compiled by the BPD.  

The BPD has three channels through which they reduce gun possession. The first channel is through buyback programs where citizens are offered $100 Target gift cards in exchange for turning in their guns to the police. The second is through the recovery of guns that are linked to criminal arrests; this channel recovers more firearms than either of the other two channels, according to the data. The third is through the voluntary surrender of guns.

From 2014-19, the BPD recovered 286 guns through buyback programs, 2,218 guns that were linked to criminal arrests and 890 guns that were voluntarily surrendered. Because the BPD buyback program is offered only in December of each year, there is no data for this channel for 2019.

The BPD reinstituted a gun buyback program in 2014 called the “Piece for Peace” program. Gun buyback programs are controversial because empirical evidence suggests that these programs do not reduce violence in communities. Its supporters say that it is a crucial opportunity for community members to demonstrate solidarity with law enforcement efforts to improve neighborhood safety.

According to a December 2018 BPD press release that details the buyback protocol, the BPD had collected 601 guns through the Piece for Peace program since 2014.

The data can be obtained from the City of Boston’s open data platform and is updated monthly by the BPD. The data used for the infographic above is updated through April 16. Please click here to preview and download the data.

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