Gun buyback programs compensate individuals who turn over firearms to a public agency or private organization. In the United States, nearly all buyback programs are implemented at the county or city level, and participation is always voluntary. The primary goal of gun buyback programs is to prevent firearm violence by reducing the stock of firearms in a community. The empirical evidence regarding the effectiveness of buyback programs is limited and mixed at best. However, meaningful impacts could go undetected because only a tiny fraction of guns in a community is turned in at buyback events.
This essay provides an overview of gun buyback programs in the United States, describes key findings from the small body of research on the effectiveness of these programs, and concludes with an exploration of policy considerations.
This essay was prepared for release as a part of RAND's Gun Policy in America website. Development of the essay was supported by a grant from Arnold Ventures.
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