Are “Goods for Guns” Good for the Community? An Update of a Community Gun Buyback Program

ArticleinJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 83(2):1 · April 2017with 163 Reads
Abstract
Background: Gun violence remains a leading cause of death in the United States. Community gun buyback programs provide an opportunity to dispose of extraneous firearms. The purpose of this study was to understand the demographics, motivation, child access to firearms and household mental illness of buyback participants in hopes of improving the program's effectiveness. Methods: A 2015 Injury Free Coalition for Kids gun buyback program which collaborated with local police departments was studied. We administered a 23-item questionnaire survey to gun buyback participants assessing demographic characteristics, motivation for relinquishing firearms, child firearm accessibility, and mental illness/domestic violence history. Results: A total of 186 individuals from Central/Western Massachusetts turned in 339 weapons. Participants received between $25 and $75 in gift cards dependent on what type of gun was turned in, with an average cost of $41/gun. A total of 109 participants (59%) completed the survey. Respondents were mostly white (99%), male (90%) and first-time participants in the program (85.2%). Among survey respondents, 54% turned in firearms "for safety reasons". Respondents reported no longer needing/wanting their weapons (47%) and approximately one in eight participants were concerned the firearm(s) were accessible to children. Most respondents (87%) felt the program encouraged neighborhood awareness of firearm safety. Three out of every five participants reported that guns still remained in their homes, additionally; 21% where children could potentially access them and 14% with a history of mental illness/suicide/domestic violence in the home. Conclusions: Gun buybacks can provide a low-cost means of removing unwanted firearms from the community. Most participants felt their homes were safer after turning in the firearm(s). In homes still possessing guns, emphasis on secure gun storage should continue increasing the safety of children and families. The results of this survey also provided new insights into the association between mental illness/suicide and gun ownership. Level of evidence: Level III, Prognostic and Epidemiological.
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    We assessed the prevalence and correlates of adolescents' reports regarding firearms in their homes, of their own, of close friends, and of same-aged peers. Random-digit-dialed interviews were conducted with 5801 adolescents as part of the California Health Interview Survey. One fifth (19.6%) of California adolescents reported having a firearm in their homes; few (3.0%) reported having their own gun. Characteristics associated with having one's own gun and with perceptions regarding others' guns generally were consistent with characteristics associated with having a firearm in the home. The 2 exceptions were related to socioeconomic status and to ethnicity. The source from which adolescents obtain guns, especially adolescents from less wealthy households, merits further investigation. Further research is needed to ascertain the accuracy of Black and Latino adolescents' perceptions regarding handguns among their peers.
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    To examine trends in rates of firearm related deaths in Victoria, Australia, over 22 years in the context of legislative reform and describe and investigate impact measures to explain trends. Mortality data were extracted from vital statistics for 1979-2000. Data on firearm related deaths that were unintentional deaths, assaults, suicides, and of undetermined intent were analyzed. Rates were calculated with population data derived from estimates by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. A quasi-experimental design that used a Poisson regression model was adopted to compare relative rates of firearm related deaths for Victoria and the rest of Australia over three critical periods of legislative reform. The Wilcoxon signed ranks test was used to assess changes in the types of firearm related deaths before and after 1998. In Victoria, two periods of legislative reform related to firearms followed mass shooting events in 1988 and 1996. A national firearm amnesty and buyback scheme followed the latter. Victorian and Australian rates of firearm related deaths before reforms (1979-86) were steady. After initial Victorian reforms, a significant downward trend was seen for numbers of all firearm related deaths between 1988 and 1995 (17.3% in Victoria compared with the rest of Australia, p<0.0001). A further significant decline between 1997 and 2000 followed the later reforms. After the later all state legislation, similar strong declines occurred in the rest of Australia from 1997 (14.0% reduction compared with Victoria, p = 0.0372). Victorian reductions were observed in frequencies of firearm related suicides, assaults, and unintentional deaths before and after the 1988 reforms, but statistical significance was reached only for suicide. Dramatic reductions in overall firearm related deaths and particularly suicides by firearms were achieved in the context of the implementation of strong regulatory reform.
  • Article
    Data from a US mortality follow-back survey were analyzed to determine whether having a firearm in the home increases the risk of a violent death in the home and whether risk varies by storage practice, type of gun, or number of guns in the home. Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 3.4). They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death. The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 10.4, 95% confidence interval: 5.8, 18.9). Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method (adjusted odds ratio = 31.1, 95% confidence interval: 19.5, 49.6). Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.
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    Household firearms are associated with an elevated risk of firearm death to occupants in the home. Many organizations and health authorities advocate locking firearms and ammunition to prevent access to guns by children and adolescents. The association of these firearm storage practices with the reduction of firearm injury risk is unclear. To measure the association of specific household firearm storage practices (locking guns, locking ammunition, keeping guns unloaded) and the risk of unintentional and self-inflicted firearm injuries. Case-control study of firearms in events identified by medical examiner and coroner offices from 37 counties in Washington, Oregon, and Missouri, and 5 trauma centers in Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma, Wash, and Kansas City, Mo. CASES AND CONTROLS: Case firearms were identified by involvement in an incident in which a child or adolescent younger than 20 years gained access to a firearm and shot himself/herself intentionally or unintentionally or shot another individual unintentionally. Firearm assaults and homicides were excluded. We used records from hospitals and medical examiners to ascertain these incidents. Using random-digit dial telephone sampling, control firearms were identified by identification of eligible households with at least 1 firearm and children living or visiting in the home. Controls were frequency matched by age group and county. MAIN EXPOSURE MEASURES: The key exposures of interest in this study were: (1) whether the subject firearm was stored in a locked location or with an extrinsic lock; (2) whether the firearm was stored unloaded; (3) whether the firearm was stored both unloaded in a locked location; (4) whether the ammunition for the firearm was stored separately; and (5) whether the ammunition was stored in a locked location. Data regarding the storage status of case and control guns were collected by interview with respondents from the households of case and control firearms. We interviewed 106 respondents with case firearms and 480 with control firearms. Of the shootings associated with the case firearms, 81 were suicide attempts (95% fatal) and 25 were unintentional injuries (52% fatal). After adjustment for potentially confounding variables, guns from case households were less likely to be stored unloaded than control guns (odds ratio [OR], 0.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.16-0.56). Similarly, case guns were less likely to be stored locked (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.17-0.45), stored separately from ammunition (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.34-0.93), or to have ammunition that was locked (OR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.23-0.66) than were control guns. These findings were consistent for both handguns and long guns and were also similar for both suicide attempts and unintentional injuries. The 4 practices of keeping a gun locked, unloaded, storing ammunition locked, and in a separate location are each associated with a protective effect and suggest a feasible strategy to reduce these types of injuries in homes with children and teenagers where guns are stored.
  • Article
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    To examine the prevalence of household firearms and firearm-storage practices in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and estimate the number of children exposed to unsafe storage practices. We analyzed data from the 2002 cross-sectional Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey of 240735 adults from randomly selected households with telephones in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nationally, 32.6% of adults reported that firearms were kept in or around their home. The prevalence of adults with household firearms ranged from 5.2% in the District of Columbia to 62.8% in Wyoming (median: 40.8%). The prevalence of adults with loaded household firearms ranged from 1.6% in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey to 19.2% in Alabama (median: 7.0%), and the prevalence of adults with loaded and unlocked household firearms ranged from 0.4% in Massachusetts to 12.7% in Alabama (median: 4.2%). Among adults with children and youth <18 years old, the prevalence of loaded household firearms ranged from 1.0% to 13.4% (median: 5.3%), and the prevalence of loaded and unlocked household firearms ranged from 0.3% to 7.3% (median: 2.3%); in each instance, Massachusetts had the lowest prevalence and Alabama had the highest. Findings indicate that approximately 1.69 million (95% confidence interval: 1.57-1.82 million) children and youth in the United States <18 years old are living with loaded and unlocked household firearms. Substantial state variations exist in the prevalence of household firearms and firearm-storage practices. It is vital that surveillance systems such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System continue to monitor the prevalence of household firearms and firearm-storage practices so that future interventions to promote safe storage of firearms can be evaluated and more widely implemented based on their efficacy.
  • Article
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    In this study we examined firearm storage patterns and their associations in a diverse sample of families who attended pediatric practices from both rural and nonrural areas across the United States. Parents who brought their children who were aged 2 to 11 years (N = 3745) to 96 Pediatric Research in Office Settings practices from 45 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico participated in an office-based survey before a well-child examination. The survey measured demographic variables; family history of guns in the home; and firearm types, storage behaviors, and ownership. Twenty-three percent of families reported firearm ownership. The majority (60%) of respondents reported making firearm storage decisions. Only one third of firearm owners reported safe firearm storage. Gun type owned was associated with storage habits, with long-gun owners storing their gun in places other than locked cabinets but with ammunition separate from guns and handgun users more likely to store guns loaded and to use gun locks. In a multivariate analysis, not being raised with a firearm was associated with safe storage behaviors. Families who had children aged 2 to 5 years and owned long guns were more likely to store their guns safely than families with older children. Few families reported safe firearm storage. Storage patterns are most influenced by firearm type(s) owned, family socialization with guns, and the age of the child. Primary care providers need to understand better not only whether firearms are in the home but also which types are present and whether parents were raised in homes with guns.
  • Article
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    To ascertain the prevalence of gun ownership, gun safety education, and parental attitudes on gun counseling in a Midwestern sample. Parents seeking care at participating practices in the Southwestern Ohio Ambulatory Research Network were recruited to complete a survey about gun ownership, gun safety education, and gun counseling attitudes. Attitudes and beliefs were compared between gun owners and non-gun owners. Twenty-four percent of respondents had at least 1 gun in the home. Military families were more likely to own a gun than civilian families (28% vs 18%, P = .001). Fifty-two percent of sample children have received gun safety education. Eight percent indicated that a physician had asked about guns or discussed gun safety issues during an office visit. A majority of parents indicated that physicians should ask about guns in the home (69%) and advise parents on safe storage (75%), but they should not advise parents to remove guns from the home (12% of gun owners, 42% of non-gun owners). Despite the morbidity and mortality associated with guns, physicians in this study do not seem to be addressing this risk with families. A majority of gun owners do not agree that physicians should counsel the removal of guns from the home but agree that they should discuss safe gun storage information.
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    To (a) quantify the lethality of suicide methods used in Australia in the period 1 July 1993 to 30 June 2003, (b) examine method-specific case fatality by age and sex, and (c) identify changes in case fatality during the study period. Two sources of data on episodes of self-harm in Australia were used, mortality and hospital separation data. Double counting of cases recorded in both sources was controlled by omitting fatal hospital cases from estimates of episodes of self-harm. Overall case fatality was 12%. For each suicide method, case fatality was higher in males and older age groups. Firearms were the most lethal suicide means (90%) followed by hanging (83%). Rates of suicide involving firearms declined over time, and those involving hanging rose. Case fatality for firearm cases changed little over time, but declined for self-harm by hanging/suffocation, poisoning, sharp objects, and crashing a motor vehicle. This study (Australia) and two others (USA) show differences in method-specific lethality by gender and age. This study adds the finding of changes in lethality over time. Understanding of suicidality in populations, on which prevention efforts depend, requires explanation of these findings.