Guns, binge drinking go hand-in-hand

UC DAVIS (US) — Gun owners who carry concealed weapons or have confronted someone with a gun are more than twice as likely to drink heavily as people who don’t own guns.

Binge drinking, chronic heavy alcohol use, and drinking and driving are all more common among gun owners than among non-owners, even after adjusting for age, sex, race, and state of residence.

Alcohol abuse was most common among firearm owners who participated in gun-related behaviors that carry a risk of violence, which also included having a loaded, unlocked firearm in the home and driving or riding in a vehicle with a loaded firearm.

“It’s not surprising that risky behaviors go together,” says Garen J. Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Califorina, Davis. “This is of particular concern given that alcohol intoxication also impairs a gun user’s accuracy as well as his judgment on whether to shoot.”

A new study appears online in the journal Injury Prevention.

The highest levels of alcohol abuse were reported by gun owners who engaged in dangerous behavior with their weapons.

For example, gun owners who also drove or rode in motor vehicles with loaded guns were more than four times as likely to drink and drive as were people who did not own guns.  Gun owners who did not travel with loaded guns were still more than twice as likely to drink and drive as were people who did not own guns.

Data for the study on firearms ownership and alcohol use came from telephone interviews conducted in 1996 and 1997 of more than 15,000 people in eight states—Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Ohio.

Participants were asked if they owned a gun, as well as if they engaged in specific firearm-related behaviors. Respondents also were asked about their consumption of alcohol, including whether they have had five or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion; if they drove after consuming “perhaps too much” alcohol; or if they had 60 or more drinks per month.

Drinking can impair judgment and lead people to use firearms in ways that they would otherwise avoid. Alternatively, underlying personality traits, such as impulsiveness or an inclination to take risks, could lead to an increase in dangerous behavior involving alcohol and guns.

The study also evaluated gun owners who indicated that they had attended a firearm-safety workshop in the previous three years. Those respondents were less likely to engage in alcohol-related risk behaviors than those who had not attended a workshop.

The 15-year-old data are the most recent available and only eight states chose to ask questions about both firearms and alcohol, but despite the limitations, the study’s results provide important evidence about gun ownership and the potential for gun use to be closely associated with the misuse and abuse of alcohol, Wintermute says.

“New and more comprehensive research is needed, since legislation authorizing the public carrying of loaded and concealed firearms has become almost universal in the United States. Efforts to separate the use of firearms from the use of alcohol may have important benefits for the health and safety of the public.”

Funding was supported by grants from the Joyce Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation.

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  1. MadRocketScientist

    Ahh, the king of cherry picking data so as to paint a negative picture of gun owners, Dr. Wintermute.

    If, as Wintermute claims, gun owners are more likely to be binge drinkers, and given that 40+ states have “Shall Issue” concealed carry laws, we should see a huge spike in violence amongst these hard drinking gun owners.

    Strangely, I’m not seeing it.

  2. Kristopher

    More bigotry from the left.

    Gun owners are all binge-drinking redneck retards in Wintemute’s little universe, so of course he buggers statistics to “prove” this. And gets paid by the Joyce Foundation to do it … another font of leftist bigotry.

    The one statistic he won’t talk about is the difference in violent crime rate between pro-freedom states and urbanized victim-disarmament states.

  3. patathomas

    What a hodge-podge of variables and explanations!

    “having a loaded, unlocked firearm in the home and
    driving or
    in a vehicle with a loaded firearm”

    “Drinking can impair judgment and lead people to use firearms…Alternatively, underlying personality traits…could lead to an increase in dangerous behavior involving alcohol and guns.

    It-could-be-this-or-it-could-be-that. Give me a break!

    I’m not surprised this less than rigorous 15- year old phone survey study and its loose, questionable conclusions were funded by the Joyce Foundation. Totally useless…

  4. William

    It is hard to know what to make of this mishmash of uniquely American politics and psychology. I am a serious firearms user, and take part in target rifle and pistol competitions internationally. I hardly drink at all, and am not violent or risk seeking, and consider myself a leftist liberal. I believe in strong gun control laws, but not the prohibition of firearms, because professionals and serious competitors should have access to any firearm, including fully automatic weapons, that they want to use. It is perfectly safe when you have well trained firearms users on a well conducted range. Some other countries nearly get this balance right, and some US states such as Nevada try to, but it is sad to see the psychology and latent political agendas muddled together in this so-called study, which can only distort and polarise the issues even more than they are already. Sigh.

  5. BurgerMeister

    Wow am I behind on my drinking. I own over a dozen guns, ride motorcycles, train in martial arts, live in the South, compete in shooting sports, (all those risky behaviors!) and I average about 1 drink per month. My in-laws own a few guns and don’t consume alcohol at all. I guess liberal’s eliminate statistics they don’t agree with.

  6. Joe Mama

    I’m with you BurgerMeister. I’ve just acquired number 25 so I should technically be dead from alcohol poisoning. I’m so glad I fled the Davis area in 1996 for the free state of Georgia – way fewer moonbats.

    P.S. – I’ll bet the data also surmised how tall I am and if I’m left or right handed.

  7. Gagarin

    BurgerMeister and all – a weird piece of research but you DO understand you are the laughing stock of the world? With your guns and your paranoia?

    And – no amount of guns will protect you from Black Helicopters sent by Antichrist Obama and his world government. Buy rocket lauchers before it’s too late!

  8. Dr. O'

    Two personal points. I drank a lot when I was in the military but seldom handled firearms. (I was a corpman.) Before I was in the military I was in hunting territory and found out I was not that good with handguns. Rifles were a different story. I was very good. Now I have about one drink a month and have not fired any type of gun for years. Does living in the suburbs constitute risky behavior so I fit the profile?

  9. Joe Mama

    Yes Gagarin, you are such a cut-up. I’m sure Shannon Christian and Christopher Newsom are laughing along with you. Oh wait…

  10. patathomas

    Gagarin, you are the joke and you are pathetic in having the grandiose notion that you speak for the world. Go get help. Like Obama, you seem to be a victim of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Your post hints at these personality traits:

    * Feels grandiose and self-important
    * Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations
    * Is “interpersonally exploitative
    * Devoid of empathy
    * Behaves arrogantly and haughtily – feels superior

    Paranoia? Paranoia is defined as: A psychological disorder characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur.

    Are you sure you’re not paranoid?

    PC guilt nerds cannot speak for polite, well-adjusted, but silent, stable folks any longer without being called out. Back up your bad behavior with facts, or keep your emotional-based diatribes to yourself. We aren;t buying that PC compost any longer!

  11. Ransom

    I don’t know what to make of this study. It flies in the face of every other research point on the issue I’ve seen. Lott’s study on Florida’s CCL movement found that CCL holders are over 100 times less likely to commit a violent crime than non-CCL holders. Presumably, that would be incredibly impressive if they were at the same time twice as likely to binge drink.

    Given that drinking habits are not dramatically changing in America, but CCL numbers are, I’m inclined to think this study indicates liberal academics with an axe to grind are prone to sociologically risky behaviors: like publishing baloney.

  12. Nathan

    The only person who had anything to add to this conversation is Ransom, every other comment says something along the lines of, well, that description doesn’t fit me so it must not be true. It’s one thing to criticize a peer reviewed article with another peer reviewed article, it’s entirely different to attack the methodology of a study that meets at least a minimal level of quantitative rigor with the retort that because the article doesn’t describe me, it must be a left wing conspiracy to steal the guns from the people. If you are going to criticize a sample as being unreliable, you should probably compare it to a sample that is larger than yourself and your friends. Looking at the nation as a whole and is different than looking at your neighborhood, church or town.

  13. Nathan

    Ransom, thanks for adding something real to this discussion. I just wanted to point out that in order to get a concealed weapon permit in Florida, you must take a class and the study above makes a point to say that all things equal, attending a firearm safety workshop, “were less likely to engage in alcohol-related risk behaviors than those who had not attended a workshop.” So your point is well taken, but at least partially attributed for in the article. Below is just description that tells us that it is not all that easy to get a Concealed Carry Permit in Florida and that the effort implies greater care by those will to go through the process.

    To receive a Florida Concealed Carry Permit, students must have adequate safety skills and be safe and proficient at handling, loading, unloading, and firing. Instructors will help students become proficient and comfortable with a handgun.

    At the successful completion of this class the MRA will provide you with the Florida packet, application, and fingerprint card that must be included in the application process. Our experienced staff will provide passport photos needed and help students successful prepare the state application for submission. We will be happy to give you advise on the process and how it works.

  14. Windy Wilson

    Ummm, this study has an additional flaw. It does not say if the binge drinking occurs before or AFTER the dangerous encounter that requires the use of a firearm (either actually firing it or showing it). If AFTER the incident, why is that so surprising? Nearly meeting one’s maker in a violent manner at the hands of someone seeking non-governmentally sponsored income redistribution is tremendously stressful, and counseling only goes so far in alleviating it.
    As others have said better before me, this is a useless study, which its proponents are using as a drunk uses a lamp post — for support, not illumination.

  15. Wii U

    That’s always horrible…but so true.

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