U.S. flag

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

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

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