Alcohol Abuse Linked to Gun Crimes in New Study

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Photo by Jenn Durfey via Flickr

Gun owners who have been convicted of an alcohol-related offense, such as driving under the influence or drunk and disorderly conduct, are up to five times as likely to be arrested for a violent or firearm-related crime than those who have not, says new research reported by The Trace. The study from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis found that a conviction for a crime involving alcohol is a much greater indication of future violent behavior than a conviction for almost any other offense, including other violent ones.

“One finding that really struck me was that when you threw alcohol and other kinds of criminal activity into the mix, alcohol remained a strong predictor but the other forms of criminal activity did not,” said research director Garen Wintemute. “Alcohol was a more important predictor of future violence than prior violence was.” The study examined the criminal records of more than 4,000 gun owners in  California who purchased a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer in 1977. During the next 14 years, almost a third of buyers — 32.8 percent — with prior alcohol convictions went on to commit a violent or firearm-related crime. Gun owners are also more likely than other people to over-consume alcohol, and Wintemute says, anywhere from 8.9 to 11.7 million firearms owners binge drink in an average month. For men, dying from alcohol-related gun violence is as likely as dying from an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash.

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