Alcohol + Guns: BAD, but . . . ?

(from recently published a piece, “Drivers with DUIs Shouldn’t be Armed” which read:

“…gun owners with DUI convictions are a discrete and dangerous group. For lawmakers eager to make progress against gun violence, they’re too good a target to ignore.”

This editorial implies that gun purchasers with a history of a DUI charge cause considerable gun violence.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

That editorial references a recently published article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Association of prior convictions for driving under the influence with risk of subsequent arrest for violent crimes among handgun purchasers”.  Its authors assert that handgun purchasers who had a prior DUI were twice as likely to commit a violent offense after purchasing their gun.  The data in the article was supposedly so compelling that the Journal‘s editors wrote that these findings “unmistakably support” more California confiscation legislation, adding “we are as intolerant of mixing alcohol and firearms, so called drunk firing, as we are of drunk driving.”

If you have followed the endless stream of unconstitutional infringements proposed by the confiscations backed by billionaires protected by armed security details, then you know that what sounds like irrefutable proof is often a complete distortion of the truth. This latest hit piece on gun owners is no exception.

The study tried to examine what happened with the roughly 80,000 people who purchased a handgun in California in 2001 over the next thirteen years. The researchers focused on those individuals who had prior convictions for DUI and non-DUI-alcohol related offenses. Here’s the objective truth, buried in a graph: in stark contrast to the claim that these purchasers were a significant source of gun violence, only 2.5% (37 people) of those 1,495 handgun purchasers with prior DUIs were ever charged with a firearm-related offense. Whether or not they were convicted, whether or not their “offense” was actually a morally-justified defensive gun usage, is not even discussed. Quite possibly, for a portion of that 2.5%, charges were dropped or they were acquitted.

The associated editorials insinuated that handgun purchasers with prior DUIs were violent with their guns and that violence would be stopped by prohibiting them from purchasing guns.  The truth is that 97% of handgun purchasers with a prior DUI did not go on even to be charged with a gun-related offense. You would never know that, however, if all you read was the Bloomberg report or the JAMA editorial. And that’s what the confiscationists are banking on. They run with headlines that superficially make sense and hope that no one questions them. 

Keep in mind that Bloomberg smeared that whole group of 1,495 gun owners, as did JAMA‘s editorial board, by accusing them of “drunk firing.” The identified DUI convictions occurred prior to the handgun purchase and there wasn’t any data showing that these purchasers were continuing to misuse alcohol. 

The most consistent aspect of all of these proposed unconstitutional infringements is how many innocent gun owners get swept up. Red flag laws can stop one suicide if guns are taken from twenty people, and this new infringement would disarm roughly forty people to theoretically stop one from incurring a gun-related charge.  The confiscationists are convinced that is a program feature, not a bug. By proposing “common sense” infringements that take time and energy to debunk, they are trying to do an end-run around the Constitution and the Supreme Court in the name of “public health.”

The most frustrating aspects of this “public health” “gun violence epidemic” nonsense is that two-thirds of all gun related deaths are suicides. Bloomberg would rather bash this group than tackle the real issues of mental health and inner city violence. JAMA does no better, which reveals it to be a biased organ for the confiscationists rather than a trusted source of medical information. Policy decisions should not be based on the actions of 37 people out of 80,000, yet JAMA thought that was an “unmistakable” good idea.

If lies, distortions and diversions aren’t enough to get you to the polls this November, hopefully this elitist hypocrisy will. Not only does Michael Bloomberg have an armed security detail, he was aghast that Johns Hopkins University police were unarmed. If guns are so dangerous, why would he want the unarmed, defenseless students to be patrolled by an armed police force?

Whenever you see a headline supporting gun confiscation, check the source and read the original publication thoroughly. Stay well regulated, and VOTE this November!

[Thanks and a hat tip to AmmoLand’s David Codrea and Bearing Arms’ Cam Edwards for referencing the Bloomberg editorial in their recent pieces. And see DRGO’s paper on the many ways firearm-related research can be corrupted.]



–Dennis Petrocelli, MD is a clinical and forensic psychiatrist who has practiced for nearly 20 years in Virginia. He took up shooting in 2019 for mind-body training and self-defense, and is joining the fight for Virginians’ gun rights.

All DRGO articles by Dennis Petrocelli, MD