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Characteristics of a gun exchange program, and an assessment of potential benefits
  1. Michael P Romero1,
  2. Garen J Wintemute1,
  3. Jon S Vernick2
  1. 1Violence Prevention Research Program, University of California, Davis
  2. 2Center for Gun Policy and Research, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
  1. Correspondence and reprint requests to:
 Michael P Romero, Violence Prevention Research Program, 2315 Stockton Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA
 (e-mail: mromero{at}


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.

  • firearms
  • violence
  • consumer participation
  • program evaluation

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