BACKGROUND: Substance-related interactions with the criminal justice system are a potential touchpoint to identify people at risk for firearm violence. We used an agent-based model to simulate the change in firearm violence after disqualifying people from owning a firearm given prior alcohol- and drug-related misdemeanors.
METHODS: We created a population of 800,000 agents reflecting a 15% sample of the adult New York City population.
RESULTS: Disqualification from purchasing firearms for 5 years after an alcohol-related misdemeanor conviction reduced population-level rates of firearm homicide by 1.0% [95% CI 0.4-1.6%] and suicide by 3.0% [95% CI 1.9-4.0%]. Disqualification based on a drug-related misdemeanor conviction reduced homicide by 1.6% [95% CI 1.1-2.2%] and suicide by 4.6% [95% CI 3.4-5.8%]. Reductions were generally 2 to 8 times larger for agents meeting the disqualification criteria.
CONCLUSIONS: Denying firearm access based on a history of drug and alcohol misdemeanors may reduce firearm violence among the high-risk group. Enactment of substance use-related firearms denial criteria needs to be balanced against concerns about introducing new sources of disenfranchisement among already vulnerable populations.
Would restricting firearm purchases due to alcohol- and drug-related misdemeanor offenses reduce firearm homicide and suicide? An agent-based simulation
Injury Epidemiology, 9 (1), 17. doi: 10.1186/s40621-022-00381-x. PMCID: PMC9185952.