Alcohol use and firearm ownership are risk factors for violent injury and death. To determine whether firearm ownership and specific firearm-related behaviours are associated with alcohol-related risk behaviours, the author conducted a cross-sectional study using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for eight states in the USA from 1996 to 1997 (the most recent data available). Altogether, 15 474 respondents provided information on firearm exposure. After adjustment for demographics and state of residence, firearm owners were more likely than those with no firearms at home to have ≥5 drinks on one occasion (OR 1.32; 95% CI 1.16 to 1.50), to drink and drive (OR 1.79; 95% CI 1.34 to 2.39) and to have ≥60 drinks per month (OR 1.45; 95% CI 1.14 to 1.83). Heavy alcohol use was most common among firearm owners who also engaged in behaviours such as carrying a firearm for protection against other people and keeping a firearm at home that was both loaded and not locked away. The author concludes that firearm ownership and specific firearm-related behaviours are associated with alcohol-related risk behaviours.