The UC Davis Firearm Violence Research Center is adding new data to discussions about who should be able to buy a gun.
Researchers studied more than 76,000 California gun owners from 2001 through 2013. They found 6 percent of people who were convicted of driving under the influence before buying a gun were later arrested for intimate partner violence, compared with 2 percent of the general study sample.
Hannah Laqueur, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at UC Davis who led the study, said it doesn’t suggest that the gun purchases led to the domestic violence crimes. But, she argues, the findings add to an important body of research on the relationship between alcohol, guns and domestic violence.
“It is a higher-risk situation when there’s a lethal weapon,” she said.
An earlier study from her team found gun buyers with a history of DUI’s were also more likely to commit firearm-related offenses than those with no prior arrests or convictions.
Felons, people addicted to narcotics and some people who are subject to restraining orders are already blocked from purchasing firearms in California. Under a law that took effect this year, some people convicted of domestic violence offenses after 2019 are banned from buying guns for life.
But Margot Bennett, executive director of a Los Angeles nonprofit called Women Against Gun Violence, said a DUI ban is a key step in preventing gun-related domestic violence on the front end.
“There’s a link between alcohol and gun violence, there’s a link between alcohol and domestic violence, there’s a link between gun ownership and domestic violence shootings,” she said.
Some experts have noted a connection between domestic violence and murder-suicide with a firearm.
In Pennsylvania, people who’ve been convicted of three DUI’s in a five-year period cannot buy a gun. A similar bill in California, SB 55, stalled in the public safety committee this year, but could return next year.
The Peace Officers Research Association of California, one of a handful of groups that opposed the bill, argued that adding more people to the “prohibited persons” list would overburden the Department of Justice.