Firearm violence frequently involves alcohol, but there are no studies of misuse of alcohol and risk for future violence among firearm owners. We examined the association between prior convictions for alcohol-related crimes, chiefly driving under the influence (DUI), and risk of subsequent arrest among 4066 individuals who purchased handguns in California in 1977. During follow-up through 1991, 32.8% of those with prior alcohol-related convictions and 5.7% of those with no prior criminal history were arrested for a violent or firearm-related crime; 15.9% and 2.7%, respectively, were arrested for murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault. Prior alcohol-related convictions were associated with a fourfold to fivefold increase in risk of incident arrest for a violent or firearm-related crime, a relative increase greater than that seen for age, sex or prior violence. Prior convictions for alcohol-related crime may be an important predictor of risk for future criminal activity among purchasers of firearms.
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