Statement of Purpose The public stock of firearms in the U.S. is increasing by an estimated three to five million firearms per year. Without enacting unpopular (and unconstitutional) controls on the purchase of firearms, there are few options for limiting the availability of firearms, and reducing rates of physical harm. One approach, which does not infringe on constitutional rights, is voluntary disposal of firearms.
Methods/Approach The Penn Injury Science Center, in collaboration with Oxford University designed and conducted 3 focus groups to: 1) consult members of the community on a local initiatives to provide accessible facilities for disposing of firearms; and 2) understand what design specifications would be essential or desirable for community members. General perceptions around firearm violence and ownership were also assessed. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed and analyzed in NVivo 11, using an iterative process.
Results Sixteen females and fourteen males participated across three focus groups. The majority of participants (n=23, 76%) were African American with high school (n=10, 33%), some college (n=11, 37%) or a college degree (n=6, 17%) as their highest level of education. Seven primary themes were initially identified and included perceptions towards firearm violence, ownership and laws; distrust of law enforcement; and attitudes, barriers and facilitators for voluntary disposal of firearms. Participants’ provided important insights pertaining to the physical appearance, functionality and geographic locations of potential disposal units.
Conclusion Understanding perceptions around the feasibility and acceptability of voluntary disposal of firearms is an important next step towards implementation.
Significance Understanding perceptions around the feasibility and acceptability of voluntary disposal of firearms is an important next step towards implementation. Community input regarding attitudes around firearm ownership and disposal along with considerations on the physical appearance, functionality and geographic locations of firearm disposal units should be integrated into a future pilot demonstration project.
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