Staff with YNHCH’s Injury Prevention Program supported a gun buyback program in August that netted 127 firearms. Among those at the event were (l-r): New Haven Police Assistant Chief Archie Generoso; Lisamaria Proscino; Injury Prevention Program staff Pina Violano, manager, Marcie Gawel, outreach coordinator, and Monica Lucas, community educator; and New Haven Police Officer David Hartman.

At this year’s New Haven gun buyback event Aug. 6, the New Haven Police Department received eighty-five handguns, 38 rifles and four assault rifles, including two sawed-off shotguns, an SKS and an AR15.

Pina Violano, RN, PhD, hopes they all add up to fewer Emergency Department visits and more lives saved.

“A lot of people don’t view gun violence as a public health issue,” said Violano, manager of Injury Prevention, Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. “But injuries related to firearms are one of the main reasons people come to our Emergency Department, and one of the leading causes of injury nationwide.”

The gun buyback event was sponsored by the New Haven Police, in partnership with YNHCH’s Injury Prevention Program and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of New Haven. With 127 firearms collected at the New Haven Police Academy, it was the most successful gun buyback yet. People could drop guns off with no questions asked and receive gift certificates in return.

Violano worked with the police department to start the gun buyback in 2011, modeling it after the Worcester, MA program. As part of research she’s conducting, Injury Prevention Program staff asked people turning in guns to complete anonymous surveys. The surveys included questions about how people obtained the firearms, why they turned them in, if they were trained in firearm use, how they stored firearms at home and whether they have children at home who could access them. In addition to gift cards, event sponsors handed out 102 gun locks.

The gun buyback program is just one of many Injury Prevention Program activities. Violano and the program’s three outreach staff members also distribute about 750 car seats a year and install a number of them. The program, which is mostly grant-funded, also distributes bicycle helmets, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and other safety devices. Staff members educate the community on safe sleep practices for infants, child-proofing homes and other topics.

“We have a multi-pronged approach to promoting safety,” Violano said. “Our focus is providing education and support for injury prevention and, in the process, building positive relationships between the hospital and the community – in the New Haven area and statewide.”