Gun violence and alcohol use are both among the leading causes of preventable death and injury in New York. The situation becomes more deadly when alcohol use and gun violence intersect.
Alcohol and gun violence
Since 1966, at least 30 mass shooters have had a problem with alcohol abuse. Alcohol is involved in a good number of everyday shootings. Some estimates state that 33% of homicide perpetrators drank heavily before they attacked and killed their victims.
An interesting part of these weapons crimes statistics is that the same proportion of gun homicide victims also drank heavily before being murdered. The same is true of approximately 25% of gun suicide victims.
Annually in the United States, alcohol kills 140,000 people. Gun violence claims the lives of around 48,000 people a year. On their own, each of these are significant problems. When they are combined, they present a deadly force.
Dangers of alcohol and guns
Alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions. It can make what would usually be a wrong decision seem like a bright idea. This includes grabbing a gun during a heated argument or using a firearm during a mental health crisis. Intoxication can make a person mishandle a gun.
Additionally, alcohol abuse can be a precursor to future violence. One study found that people convicted of alcohol offenses, such as drunk and disorderly conduct or DUI, were five times more likely to get arrested for violent gun-related crimes.
Interestingly, federal law makes it illegal to buy a gun if they are addicted to a depressant, stimulant, marijuana or controlled substance. However, alcohol is not on the federally defined list of depressants. It is not deemed a controlled substance. As such, controlling alcohol consumption related to gun ownership is done at the state level.
There is ample evidence showing a connection between alcohol abuse and gun violence. State and federal legislation is being considered to lower the number of incidents caused by alcohol-related gun violence. The end goal is to help keep the community safe.