Money for guns: evaluation of the Seattle Gun Buy-Back Program

Public Health Rep. 1994 Jul-Aug;109(4):472-7.


Community involvement in local firearms policy is advocated to be an important component of efforts to curtail violence. This report describes the first evaluation of one such effort, a gun buy-back program conducted in Seattle, WA, during the fall of 1992. The evaluation included (a) surveys of 500 participants and a description of the firearms exchanged; (b) monitoring police reports, trauma center admissions, and medical examiners' data to assess short-term effects on the frequency of firearm-related events; and (c) an assessment of community beliefs by random-digit dialing telephone interviews of 1,000 residents. Of the 1,172 firearms relinquished, 95 percent were handguns, 83 percent were operational, and 67 percent were owned for more than 5 years. Twenty-five percent were exchanged by women. The mean age of participants in the exchange program was 51 years. Females and persons in older age groups were more likely than males (83 percent versus 70 percent, P < 0.01) and minors (88 percent versus 55 percent, P < 0.05) to select safe disposal as motivation to participate. Comparing firearm-related events per month before and after the program, crimes and deaths increased, and injuries decreased, but the changes were not statistically significant. Telephone interviews revealed broad support for publicly funded gun buy-back programs even among households (61 percent) with firearms. Gun buy-back programs are a broadly supported means to decrease voluntarily the prevalence of handguns within a community, but their effect on decreasing violent crime and reducing firearm mortality is unknown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Community Participation*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homicide / prevention & control
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Program Evaluation* / methods
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Washington / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology