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Buyback Firearms: Crime Guns or (S)Crap Guns?
Laura Baumann1, Rob Berntsson2, Susan Williams, MD3, James C. Rovella, MPA2, David Shapiro, MD4, Shefali Thaker, MPH1, Kevin Borrup, JD, MPP1, Garry Lapidus PA-C, MPH1, Brendan T. Campbell, MD, MPH1. 1Children's Medical Center. Hartford, CT, USA, 2Hartford Police Department, Hartford, CT, 3Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Farmington, CT, USA, 4St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford, CT, USA.

Background: Gun buyback programs aim to remove unwanted firearms from the community with the goal of lowering the incidence of firearm injury and death. Buyback programs have been initiated in many communities across the United States, but evidence demonstrating their effectiveness is lacking. The purpose of this study is to compare buyback guns to crime guns seized by police in Hartford, Connecticut.

Methods: Detailed firearm data was obtained from the Hartford Police Department regarding crime guns and buyback guns collected during 2015. Information about these firearms included type, manufacturer, model, and caliber (SMALL ≤ .32 caliber, MEDIUM = .357 caliber to 9 millimeter, LARGE ≥ .40 caliber). Chi-square analyses were used for comparisons between groups.

Results: In 2015, 224 crime guns were confiscated or seized by the Hartford Police Department, and 169 guns were collected at four community buyback events held in the city. When firearms that were used in a crime were compared to firearms collected at buyback events, a similar percentage were handguns (crime=86%, buyback=72%). All firearms collected at the buyback events were confirmed to be operational by the police armourer. Caliber of firearms differed significantly between groups (SMALL: crime=23%, buyback=66%, MEDIUM: crime=56%, buyback=31%, LARGE: crime=21%, buyback=4%, p<.001). The majority of firearms in both groups were manufactured in the United States (crime=73%, buyback=84%).

Conclusions: Firearms collected at gun buyback events are similar to those used in crimes locally. Thoughtful collaborations between trauma centers, law enforcement, and community agencies can effectively remove unwanted and potentially dangerous firearms from the community.


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