Handgun Purchase as a Risk Factor for Death Injury

Kevin M. Grassel, University of California, Davis
Garen Wintemute, University of California, Davis

ABSTRACT
Fear of crime and the need for protection are the most common reasons for the purchase of a handgun in the U.S. Several small case control studies have suggested that handgun ownership is a risk factor for violent death. We report the results of a study of recent handgun purchase, as opposed to handgun ownership, as a risk factor for violent death. The study population consists of all persons 21 years of age or older dying in California in 1998 (221,317 persons). Cases are defined as all persons dying from an external cause. Controls are all persons dying from a non-external cause. The critical exposure is the purchase of a handgun within three years prior to death. Logistic regression will be used to calculate odds ratios, adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, and urban/rural location. Study hypotheses are that recent handgun purchasers will be at selectively increased risk for violent death, and that risk will be greatest for death involving firearms. Data will be presented on the proportion of persons dying from seleted causes n 1998, particularly firearm suicide and homicide, who purchased handguns within three years of death.

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Updated 05/20/2006