It's tempting to write off Tuesday morning's gun buy-back event as a circus or a sideshow. 

But in reality, it reflected a key divide that we Americans have over guns in our culture.

At the entrances to the Patrick Hardesty Midtown Multi-Service Center, 1100 S. Alvernon Way, were people waving signs and wads of bills. Their main message was that they would pay cash for guns.

Their underlying message is a popular one in this country: More guns is a good thing. More guns means less crime. In fact, that's the title of a book popular with this side of the debate — More Guns Less Crime, by John Lott Jr. 

Among those who were turning in their guns were some who take another popular perspective: More guns means more gun violence.

I spoke with a man, Darrell McQueen, who was turning in a .22 rifle that was left in a house he bought. McQueen has his own pistol, he said, but chose to exchange the rifle for a $50 gift card. 

"I prefer to have it off the street. Less guns is better," he said.

What's the truth? The best I can do is refer you to some interesting recent pieces on the subject.

There's Lott's book, of course, but a more recent long article on the issue came from The Atlantic, where Jeffrey Goldberg argued more guns may be the answer. 

In response, Salon published this broad review of the research and concluded, as the headline of the piece says, "The Answer is not More Guns."

It's worth noting that the event was held at a municipal building named after a Tucson police officer, Patrick Hardesty, shot to death in 2003 by a hit-and-run suspect he was trying to arrest. Hardesty was armed, of course, but so was the killer, John Montenegro Cruz, who is now awaiting execution.