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June 6, 2001

Denial of Handgun Purchase to Violent Misdemeanants

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;285(21):2715-2716. doi:10.1001/jama.285.21.2715

To the Editor: The article by Dr Wintemute and colleagues1 on the effect of denying handgun purchases to persons convicted of some misdemeanors contains a number of flaws. The most serious flaw, which undermines their approach to studying the effectiveness of gun laws, is that only legal handgun purchases were studied. However, in a survey cited by the authors,2 barely one fourth of prisoners obtained guns from gun dealers. Also, Wintemute et al counted 546 arrests for new crimes among 1654 subjects over a 3-year period, during which time California reported almost 1 million adult FBI index crime arrests and about 600 000 arrests for violent or gun crimes.3 These data suggest that their sample is atypical.