Subsequent Criminal Activity Among Violent Misdemeanants Who Seek to Purchase Handguns, Risk Factors and Effectiveness of Denying Handgun Purchase

Publication Date: January 2001

Publisher: Journal of the American Medical Association

Author(s): Garen J. Wintemute; Mona A. Wright; C.M. Drake; J.J. Beaumont

Research Area: Law and ethics; Social conditions

Keywords: violent crimes; gun laws; legislation; violence

Type: Report

Coverage: California


California has denied handgun purchases by violent misdemeanants since 1991; the effectiveness of these policies is unknown. This study sought to determine the risk factors for new criminal activity among violent misdemeanants who seek to purchase handguns and whether denial of handgun purchase by violent misdemeanants affects their risk of arrest for new crimes, particularly gun and/or violent crimes.
It examined persons aged 21 to 34 years who sought to purchase a handgun through a licensed dealer in California during 1989-1991 and who had at least 1 violent misdemeanor conviction in the preceding 10 years.
It found, in part, that during the 3-year follow-up, 33.0% of the studied subjects were arrested for a new crime. Its results indicate that denial of handgun purchase to violent misdemeanants is associated with a specific decrease in risk of arrest for new gun and/or violent crimes.