A well-designed buyback program provides a good way for cities to address gun violence, but is no substitute for a national measure to ban the deadliest weapons and reduce the number of guns on the streets.

A gun buyback in Gainesville last weekend resulted in 136 firearms being collected, a drop in the bucket in a country where there are more guns than people.

Still, such a program has value. The firearms included three that were reported stolen, showing the need for gun owners to properly secure their weapons. Thefts from unlocked cars have been a particular problem in Gainesville.

The Gainesville Police Department and partner groups provided between $50 and $300 in gift cards or game systems for each firearm, using $7,000 of money seized from criminals to fund the voluntary exchanges. The guns collected include semi-automatic, assault-style rifles similar to the guns used in mass shootings in recent years, including the shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart this month in which 22 people were killed and 22 others were injured.

Supporters of a state ban on assault weapons are collecting signatures to hopefully put the issue on the November 2020 ballot in Florida. Seven states including California already have similar bans.

A mass shooting this month at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California, showed the need for a national policy. The gunman bought the rifle used in the shooting in Nevada, where it is legally allowed to be sold.

Congress passed a national assault-weapons ban in 1994 but let it expire a decade later. Even if members of Congress found the political courage to pass another ban — a big if — that would still leave millions of those weapons on the streets.

After a gunman used such a weapon to kill 35 people and wound 23 more at a tourist resort in Tasmania in 1996, Australia's government instituted strict gun-control measures and a mandatory buyback program. About 650,000 guns were purchased.

Researchers found that firearm homicides dropped 59 percent and firearm suicides dropped 65 percent in the decade after the measures were enacted. Today the United States experiences six times the rate of gun crimes as Australia.

The United States currently has about 393 million privately owned guns, or about 120 guns for every 100 U.S. residents. It is no coincidence that the United States also has higher rates of gun violence than any other developed nation, all of which have stronger gun regulations.

Voluntary buybacks can help reduce gun violence, but some cities' buybacks have resulted in guns that are old or broken being bought. Programs that buy the types of guns most likely to be used in crimes are the most effective, with a buyback program in Boston found to have helped decrease shootings there.

Gainesville hasn’t seen the level of gun violence experienced in big cities, although there were a worrisome string of shootings here earlier this year. GPD and other agencies that held last weekend’s buyback are planning another event later this year.

A well-designed buyback program provides a good way for cities to address gun violence, but is no substitute for a national measure to ban the deadliest weapons and reduce the number of guns on the streets.