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August 4, 1999

Violent Criminal Activity Among Handgun Purchasers With Prior Misdemeanor Convictions

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;282(5):425-427. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-282-5-jbk0804

To the Editor: The research by Dr Wintemute and colleagues1 was designed to produce results that could be interpreted to suggest further restrictions on gun ownership. Leaving aside most of the study's limitations, all acquisitions of handguns except through licensed dealers were ignored. More importantly, an arrest—not a conviction—following lawful acquisition was the measure of criminal recidivism. Misdemeanants may be more likely to commit crimes than persons with no criminal record, as the authors assume, but it could equally be the case that police are more apt to arrest persons known to have criminal records, in which case the authors' conclusions are unwarranted.