Patterns of handgun divestment among handgun owners in California

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Patterns of handgun divestment among handgun owners in California

Category: Behavior|Journal: Injury Epidemiology (full text)|Author: D Studdert, E Holsinger, L Prince, M Miller, S Swanson, Y Zhang, Z Templeton|Year: 2022


Little is known about voluntary divestment of firearms among US firearm owners. Here, we aim to estimate the proportion of handgun owners who divest their handguns in the years following their initial acquisition; examine the timing, duration, and dynamics of those divestments; and describe characteristics of those who divest.


We use data from the Longitudinal Study of Handgun Ownership and Transfer, a cohort of registered voters in California with detailed information on 626,756 adults who became handgun owners during the 12-year study period, 2004–2016. For the current study, persons were followed from the time of their initial handgun acquisition until divestment, loss to follow-up, death, or the end of the study period. We describe the cumulative proportion who divest overall and by personal and area-level characteristics. We also estimate the proportion who reacquired handguns among persons who divested.


Overall, 4.5% (95% CI 4.5–4.6) of handgun owners divested within 5 years of their first acquisition, with divestment relatively more common among women and among younger adults. Among those who divested, 36.6% (95% CI 35.8–37.5) reacquired a handgun within 5 years.


Handgun divestment is rare, with the vast majority of new handgun owners retaining them for years.

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