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Alcohol Abuse and Gun Crime Related, New Study Finds

Alcohol Abuse and Gun CrimeNew research shows that gun owners who have prior convictions for alcohol-related offenses, such as drunk and disorderly conduct or DUI (driving under the influence) are as many as five times as likely to be arrested for a firearms-related or violent crime than those who have not.

The study was undertaken by a research team from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. It found that a prior conviction for a crime that involved alcohol was a much higher indication of future violent behavior for a person than a conviction for most any other type of crime. The researchers included other violent ones in their scope before coming to this conclusion.

Study Looked at Criminal Records of Gun Owners

The study examined the criminal records of more then 4,000 gun owners in California who bought a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer in the year 1977. During the next 14 years, close to one-third of the buyers (32.8 percent) with previous convictions for alcohol-related offenses went on to either commit a firearm-related or violent crime.

Approximately 16 percent of the offenders were arrested for robbery, rape, murder or aggravated assault. The researchers found that gun owners who had no criminal record when they bought their weapon were much less likely to commit a crime. The study revealed that only 5.7 percent of gun owners in this category were arrested for a gun-related or a violent crime; only 3 percent were charged with a serious violent crime.

Previous Studies Linked Alcohol Use and Gun Offenses

Previous studies have also linked alcohol use and gun-related offenses. One meta-study analyzed information from over 28,000 homicide offenders from nine countries. It found that, on average, nearly half of homicide offenders (48 percent) were under the influence of alcohol at the time they committed their offense. The study also found that 38 percent of the offenders were intoxicated.

The study found no demographic variations with regard to age, race or gender. The number of offenders who where under the influence of alcohol was lower among those who committed a crime with a firearm. The researchers concluded that communities with high homicide rates should take steps to lower rates of alcohol consumption.