Through an evaluation of California’s prohibition on the purchase of firearms by violent misdemeanants, this report discusses whether the denial of handgun purchases affects misdemeanants risk of arrest for new crimes.
Addressing whether the denial of handgun purchases by violent misdemeanants influences their risk of arrest for new, gun related, and/or violent crimes, this report presents an evaluation of California’s firearms policy. Following an introduction to California and other States’ policies to deny firearm purchases to individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors and other offenses, the authors present a comprehensive background to the problem of firearm violence and to laws enacted to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of violent offenders. In order to evaluate how California’s prohibition on the purchase of firearms affects violent misdemeanants, the researchers studied all persons between the ages of 21 and 34 years old who sought to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed firearms dealer in California during 1989 to 1991. The individuals chosen in this study had at least one violent misdemeanor conviction, in the preceding 10 years. Analyzing 986 persons whose purchase applications were denied and 787 persons whose purchase applications were approved prior to the passage of California’s gun law in 1991, indicated that the successful purchasers were more likely to be arrested for new gun and/or violent crimes than were those who were denied the purchase of firearms. The authors conclude that this study demonstrates that denial of handgun purchases to violent misdemeanants is positively associated with a reduction in the risk of arrest for new gun and/or violent crimes. An extensive reference list and a series of tables presenting the study’s findings complete this report.
Date Published: May 1, 2002