Association between handgun purchase and mortality from firearm injury

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Association between handgun purchase and mortality from firearm injury

Category: Firearm Availability, Suicide|Journal: Injury Prevention (full text)|Author: G Wintemute, K Grassel, M Romero, M Wright|Year: 2003


To determine the association between mortality from violent or firearm related injury and previous handgun purchase.


Case-control study of 213 466 Californians ages 21 and older who died in 1998; cases were the 4728 violent or firearm related injury deaths, with subsets by specific cause and means of death, and controls were the 208 738 non-injury deaths. The exposure of interest was the purchase of a handgun during 1996-98. The main outcome measure was the odds ratio for handgun purchase, adjusted for age, sex, race, education, and marital status.


Handgun purchase was more common among persons dying from suicide (odds ratio (OR) 6.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) 5.7 to 8.1) or homicide (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.6 to 3.7), and particularly among those dying from gun suicide (OR 12.5; 95% CI 10.4 to 15.0) or gun homicide (OR 3.3; 95% CI 2.1 to 5.3), than among controls. No such differences were seen for non-gun suicide or homicide. Among women, those dying from gun suicide were much more likely than controls to have purchased a handgun (OR 109.8; 95% CI 61.6 to 195.7). Handgun purchasers accounted for less than 1% of the study population but 2.4% of gun homicides, 14.2% of gun suicides, and 16.7% of unintentional gun deaths. Gun suicide made up 18.9% of deaths among purchasers but only 0.6% of deaths among non-purchasers.


Among adults who died in California in 1998, those dying from violence were more likely than those dying from non-injury causes to have purchased a handgun.

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