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December 23/30, 1998

Handgun Purchasers With Misdemeanor Convictions

Author Affiliations

From the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, Washington, DC (Mrs and Mr Brady). Dr Cole is a Contributing Editor of JAMA.

JAMA. 1998;280(24):2120-2121. doi:10.1001/jama.280.24.2120

Should violent criminals be permitted to buy handguns? US federal law says yes and no. People who have been convicted of felony crimes are prohibited from purchasing handguns, but people convicted of misdemeanors—including violent misdemeanors that do not involve violence against an intimate partner—are not. Were Congress to extend the prohibition on handgun sales to include persons convicted of violent misdemeanors, it could do so with the public's approval. A recent survey1 of US adults found strong support for policies to prohibit persons convicted of misdemeanors, even nonviolent misdemeanors, from purchasing handguns—but is this a policy worth pursuing?