Background: We conducted a population-based case-control study to better delineate the relationship between individual alcohol consumption, alcohol outlets in the surrounding environment, and being assaulted with a gun.
Methods: An incidence density sampled case-control study was conducted in the entire city of Philadelphia from 2003 to 2006. We enrolled 677 cases that had been shot in an assault and 684 population-based controls. The relationships between 2 independent variables of interest, alcohol consumption and alcohol outlet availability, and the outcome of being assaulted with a gun were analyzed. Conditional logistic regression was used to adjust for numerous confounding variables.
Results: After adjustment, heavy drinkers were 2.67 times as likely to be shot in an assault when compared with nondrinkers (p < 0.10) while light drinkers were not at significantly greater risk of being shot in an assault when compared with nondrinkers. Regression-adjusted analyses also demonstrated that being in an area of high off-premise alcohol outlet availability significantly increased the risk of being shot in an assault by 2.00 times (p < 0.05). Being in an area of high on-premise alcohol outlet availability did not significantly change this risk. Heavy drinkers in areas of high off-premise alcohol outlet availability were 9.34 times (p < 0.05) as likely to be shot in an assault.
Conclusions: This study finds that the gun assault risk to individuals who are near off-premise alcohol outlets is about the same as or statistically greater than the risk they incur from heavy drinking. The combination of heavy drinking and being near off-premise outlets resulted in greater risk than either factor alone. By comparison, light drinking and being near on-premise alcohol outlets were not associated with increased risks for gun assault. Cities should consider addressing alcohol-related factors, especially off-premise outlets, as highly modifiable and politically feasible approaches to reducing gun violence.