Characteristics of a gun exchange program, and an assessment of potential benefits

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Characteristics of a gun exchange program, and an assessment of potential benefits

Category: Firearm Availability, Firearm Policies|Journal: Injury Prevention (full text)|Author: G Wintemute, J Vernick, M Romero|Year: 1998

Objectives

To describe a gun exchange program and assess potential benefits for participants and host communities.

Methods

Mail survey of participants in a Sacramento, California gun exchange program, August 1993; the response rate was 79%. Comparative data were obtained from nationwide polls of gun owners.

Results

Most (62%) respondents were men; 40% were more than 55 years old; none was less than 25. Concern that children might find and use the gun was the most frequently cited reason for participating (46% of respondents). Of 141 firearms exchanged, 72% were handguns; 23% of respondents indicated that the guns they turned in were not in working order. Of respondents who owned a gun at the time of the program (rather than those who owned no guns and turned in a gun owned by someone else), 41% owned no guns after participating; the prevalence of handgun ownership declined from 79% to 32%. Those who continued to own guns were as likely as gun owners nationwide to keep a gun loaded in the house (odds ratio (OR) 0.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.4 to 1.7) or to carry a gun with them (OR 1.5, 95% CI 0.6 to 3.8).

Conclusions

Gun exchange programs may reduce risk for firearm violence among some participants, but a number of factors limit their overall benefits to host communities.

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