As a pediatric surgeon at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center who cares for injured children and adults, I see gun violence at its worst. All too often, the victims of gun violence arrive at our trauma center with irreparable injuries and all we can do is try to pick up the pieces. Like most complex social problems, there is no simple fix that will prevent all firearm injuries, but a community gun buyback program is a bold step in the right direction.
Removing unwanted firearms from closets, attics, and garages in the community prevents them from becoming an opportunity for criminals or a hazard for curious children.
This past Saturday, Connecticut residents turned in 68 unwanted firearms at the 9th annual Capital Region Gun Buyback Program. A significant number of these guns were assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols, the same type of firearms that Hartford police tell us are used to commit violent crimes in our state.
Connecticut Children’s partners with Hartford’s two adult trauma centers, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center and Hartford Hospital, for this initiative. We also work closely with the Hartford Police Department, the city of Hartford, and the Community Renewal Team, which hosted the event at its offices on Windsor Street in Hartford.
As part of the program, Connecticut residents can exchange working guns for grocery store gift cards.
Since launching the gun buyback in 2009, more than 1,200 unwanted firearms have been collected. All guns are destroyed unless forensic testing shows they’ve previously been used in a crime. This year, we collected the following firearms:
- 3 assault rifles
- 25 pistols
- 20 revolvers
- 8 rifles
- 8 shotguns
- 3 Derringer pistols
- 1 machine gun
Gun violence is a major public health problem in the United States. On average, 91 Americans die every day as the result of firearm injuries and over 90 percent of children killed by gunfire worldwide reside in the United States.
It is our hope that our program not only makes Connecticut a safer place for us to live and raise our children, but also serves as an annual reminder for gun owners about the critical importance of safe firearm storage and the danger unsecured firearms pose to children and adolescents.
Slideshow photos provided courtesy of photojournalist Helen Klisser During.
Brendan T. Campbell, MD, MPH holds the Donald W. Hight Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery and is the medical director of pediatric trauma at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.