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

NCJ Number
JAMA Volume: 285 Issue: 8 Dated: February 28, 2001 Pages: 1019-1026
Date Published
8 pages

This study was conducted to determine risk factors for new criminal activity among violent misdemeanants in California who sought to purchase handguns and to determine whether the denial of handgun purchases affected the risk of violent misdemeanants committing new crimes.


The study sample included persons between 21 and 34 years of age who sought to purchase a handgun through a licensed dealer in California between 1989 and 1991 and who had at least one violent misdemeanor conviction in the preceding 10 years. Respondents consisted of 986 persons whose purchase applications were made in 1991 and who were denied and 787 persons whose purchase applications were made in 1989 and 1990 and who were approved. Main outcome measures included incidence and relative risk of first arrest in California for new gun and/or violent crimes, and for non-gun, non-violent crimes during a 3-year follow-up after actual or attempted handgun purchase. Results showed 546 or 33 percent of 1,654 respondents with follow-up information were arrested for a new crime, including 296 or 31.9 percent of 927 denied persons and 250 or 34.4 percent of approved persons. After adjusting for differences in age, sex, and prior criminal history, purchasers were more likely than denied persons to be arrested for new gun and/or violent crimes but not for non-gun, non-violent crimes. In both groups, the risk of arrest was strongly related to age and number of convictions accrued prior to actual or attempted handgun purchase. The authors conclude the denial of handgun purchase to violent misdemeanants is associated with a specific decrease in the risk of arrest for new gun and/or violent crimes. 34 references, 4 tables, and 3 figures

Date Published: January 1, 2001