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Gun Buybacks Encourage People to Turn in Unwanted Firearms, Aim to Reduce Gun Violence

November 22, 2023

You might not expect to find a trauma surgeon at a police station on a Saturday, but Hartford HealthCare colleagues from four different hospitals volunteered in October to raise awareness about gun safety and support a statewide gun buyback event.

Gun buyback events offer an opportunity for people to turn in unwanted guns, learn about gun safety and obtain gun safes. The goal is to help reduce gun violence in communities, and reduce unsecured and unwanted guns in homes.

Colleagues from the Hartford HealthCare trauma centers, including Hartford Hospital, Backus Hospital and the trauma program at The Hospital of Central Connecticut in partnership with MidState Medical Center, all participated in this year’s gun buyback event.

The third annual Statewide Gun Buyback was held on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, offering people an opportunity to turn in unwanted firearms.

History of community cooperation

Hartford Hospital has supported gun buybacks in Hartford for more than 15 years, working with city hospitals, police and community organizers to raise awareness about gun safety and responsible gun ownership. Organizers say sometimes people inherit guns they don’t want or they may decide they no longer want guns or ammunition in their home.

The statewide event seeks to reduce firearm-related injuries by lowering the number of unwanted and unsecured guns that are inside Connecticut homes. Guns are the number one killer of children and teens in the United States.

This year, the Hartford Police Department received a total of 64 firearms and additional ammunition. This included 19 pistols, 18 rifles, 17 revolvers, eight shotguns and two assault rifles. Gift cards, totaling more than $5,000, were given out to those who turned in working guns. Police also distributed 78 gun safes during the event on Saturday in Hartford.

In Meriden, 16 people turned in 58 guns, with a payout of $4,250 in gift cards.

Raise awareness, promote prevention of gun injuries

A press conference was held on Oct. 26 in Hartford to promote the event, with doctors from various Hartford hospitals and representatives from Newtown Action Alliance and Ethan Miller Song Foundation, as well as Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz speaking about the importance of gun violence prevention.

Alfred Croteau, MD, a trauma surgeon at Hartford Hospital who has participated in gun buyback events in Hartford for the past six years, spoke at the press conference about the importance of prevention and raising awareness.

“As a trauma surgeon, I’ve had the privilege and the burden of treating patients injured by firearms. It’s a role I take very seriously. As of today in 2023 alone, the Hartford Hospital team treated more than 100 patients with gunshot wounds and more than half of those patients stayed in the hospital on average more than 10 days,” Croteau says. “I stand before you advocating not for our response to these incidents but for their prevention. Prevention should always be our primary goal. We can’t heal the pain and suffering caused by gun violence after the fact. We can only strive to ensure these incidents never occur in the first place.”

Gun buybacks offer a safe, anonymous and responsible option for individuals to remove unwanted firearms from their homes. This year’s #KeepKidsSafe gun buyback was held statewide and included support from Connecticut Children’s, Saint Francis Hospital, Saint Mary’s Hospital, and Yale New Haven Health, as well as law enforcement and Newtown Action Alliance.