Researchers at UC Davis reported that people who purchased handguns and had previous DUI convictions were at an increased risk of committing a violent crime in the future.
The researchers reviewed data maintained by the California Department of Justice to determine if a connection exists between DUI convictions and the risk a subsequent arrest for gun owners. In this longitudinal study, they looked at information on nearly 80,000 people who purchased handguns in 2001. In 2013, they followed up with those individuals.
Looking at people who had only a DUI and no other criminal offenses before the first firearm purchase, the researchers found that those convicted of driving under the influence were at a greater risk of committing a subsequent crime than those who did not have a criminal history.
The researchers’ results showed that 9% of the people who had a DUI were arrested for the following types of crimes later:
Only 2% of firearm purchasers who didn’t have a prior conviction were arrested for a subsequent offense.
The current study builds on past research that has shown a link between alcohol use and gun violence.
Possible Implications of the Findings
The results of the current study were published at a time when states across the nation are looking for ways to prevent gun violence. In some places, like Ohio, people considered habitual drinkers are prohibited from buying firearms. Similarly, in Tennessee, if a person is deemed “addicted to alcohol,” they are barred from gun ownership.
California lawmakers are looking to pass legislation like that in Ohio and Tennessee. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barabara, wrote a bill that would ban gun ownership of people with multiple alcohol-related convictions. In 2013, legislatures tried to pass a similar measure, but former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it, saying there was lack of evidence linking DUIs to subsequent crimes.
The results from the UC Davis study might impact current legislation efforts. If lawmakers’ efforts to restrict gun ownership is approved, more penalties could be imposed for DUI convictions.
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