U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Characteristics of a Gun Exchange Program, and an Assessment of Potential Benefits

NCJ Number
Injury Prevention Volume: 4 (1998) Issue: Dated: Pages: 206-210
M P Romero; G J Wintemute; J S Vernick
Date Published
5 pages
This article examines a gun exchange program and assesses potential benefits for participants and host communities.
Almost half (46 percent) of the participants in a 1993 Sacramento, Calif., gun exchange program gave concern that children might find and use the gun as the reason they participated. Of 141 firearms exchanged, 72 percent were handguns; 23 percent 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, 41 percent owned no gun after participating; the prevalence of handgun ownership declined from 79 percent to 32 percent. Those who continued to own guns were as likely as gun owners nationwide to keep a gun loaded in the house or to carry a gun with them. Gun exchange programs may reduce risk for firearm violence among some participants, but a number of factors limit their overall benefits to host communities: (1) Persons who still had guns used them as other gun owners do, including behaviors associated with a higher risk of firearm injury; (2) As in other such programs, participants in the Sacramento program were older than other gun owners and therefore at lower risk of firearm violence; (3) A quarter of the guns exchanged were not in working order and thus posed little potential for violence in the first place; and (4) Guns returned during exchange programs may not resemble the guns most frequently used in crime. Tables, figure, notes