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Do “gun buybacks” work?

An alternative to thoughts and prayers.

Christina Thornell is a senior producer for the Vox video team.

On May 3, 2023, Serbia experienced two mass shootings that left more than 15 people dead. While Serbia has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, mass shootings there are rare, and the shootings shocked the country.

In response, one of the big things the Serbian government did was implement a weapon surrender scheme. So far, 26,000 unregistered weapons, 1.3 million rounds of ammunition, and 6,000 explosives have been voluntarily surrendered.

It’s too soon to know what impact this will have on Serbia’s gun ownership rates, but we can look at Australia, where, in 1996, they implemented the world’s largest mandatory buyback program. Nearly three decades later, Australia has removed more than 640,000 guns from the streets. To understand what the data says about the effects of the program regarding gun deaths and mass shootings, check out our explainer above.

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