Importance: Alcohol use is a risk factor for firearm-related violence, and firearm owners are more likely than others to report risky drinking behaviors.
Objective: To study the association between prior convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) and risk of subsequent arrest for violent crimes among handgun purchasers.
Design: In this retrospective, longitudinal cohort study, 79 678 individuals were followed up from their first handgun purchase in 2001 through 2013. The study cohort included all legally authorized handgun purchasers in California aged 21 to 49 years at the time of purchase in 2001. Individuals were identified using the California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) Dealer's Record of Sale (DROS) database, which retains information on all legal handgun transfers in the state.
Exposures: The primary exposure was DUI conviction prior to the first handgun purchase in 2001, as recorded in the CA DOJ Criminal History Information System.
Main outcomes and measures: Prespecified outcomes included arrests for violent crimes listed in the Crime Index published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), firearm-related violent crimes, and any violent crimes.
Results: Of the study population (N=79 678), 91.0% were males and 68.9% were white individuals; the median age was 34 (range, 21-49) years. The analytic sample for multivariable models included 78 878 purchasers after exclusions. Compared with purchasers who had no prior criminal history, those with prior DUI convictions and no other criminal history were at increased risk of arrest for a Crime Index-listed violent crime (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 2.6; 95% CI, 1.7-4.1), a firearm-related violent crime (AHR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.3-6.4), and any violent crime (AHR, 3.3; 95% CI, 2.4-4.5). Among purchasers with a history of arrests or convictions for crimes other than DUI, associations specifically with DUI conviction remained.
Conclusions and relevance: This study's findings suggest that prior DUI convictions may be associated with the risk of subsequent violence, including firearm-related violence, among legal purchasers of handguns. Although the magnitude was diminished, the risk associated with DUI conviction remained elevated even among those with a history of arrests or convictions for crimes of other types.