The editorial board of Bloomberg News has channeled their boss’s anti-gun attitudes and is calling for a lifetime ban on gun possession for those convicted of alcohol-related misdemeanor crimes. While the editors’ headline focuses on DUI offenders, it’s clear the anti-gun journalists want a much broader prohibition.
Most states don’t prohibit alcohol abusers or those convicted of alcohol-related misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing firearms. Even in states with alcohol provisions, definitions of what constitutes “alcohol abuse” are often too vague to be effective. Pennsylvania’s law is one of the clearest. It’s hardly draconian, banning firearm transfers to anyone convicted of three or more alcohol-related driving violations in five years. The District of Columbia prohibits firearm sales to anyone convicted of two or more alcohol-and-driving violations, also within five years.
Under current federal law, anybody convicted of a felony-level offense or a domestic violence misdemeanor is automatically barred from owning firearms. What the Bloomberg editorial board is seeking is a further erosion of the standards to disqualify someone from exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.
In Virginia, if the Bloomberg crowd had its way, residents could lose their right to keep and bear arms if they were convicted or pleaded guilty to public intoxication, purchasing liquor from an unlicensed seller, and a host of other misdemeanor crimes. That’s quite all right with the Bloomberg editors, because they view this prohibition as a sort of pre-crime intervention.
Today, the links between alcohol abuse and firearm violence are also well established. “The research consistently shows that alcohol abuse is associated with violence toward self and others,” stated a comprehensive 2013 report by a consortium of leading researchers. Millions of firearm owners are binge drinkers — and among American men, deaths from alcohol-related firearm violence are on par with those from alcohol-related motor-vehicle accidents, according to a 2015 study.
Who would have guessed? Drunken gunplay is as lethal as drunken driving.
Last month, a new study confirmed a link between firearm violence and convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol. It tracked 78,878 handgun purchasers over 13 years. Purchasers with DUI convictions were more than four times as likely to be arrested for murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault than those without.
I took a look at the study and you won’t be too surprised to learn that the anti-gun editors at Bloomberg are hyping the results. What the study author found was that 9% of those convicted of a misdemeanor DUI in California who purchased a firearm went on to be arrested (but not necessarily convicted) of much more serious offenses like murder, robbery, rape, and aggravated assault. Just 2% of gun purchasers who had no criminal history at the time of their purchase went on to be arrested for those serious crimes. The editors believe that because almost 10% of those with DUI convictions were later accused of serious crimes, a misdemeanor conviction should result in a loss of the right to keep and bear arms. Another way of looking at the data, however, is to recognize that more than 90% of those with a misdemeanor alcohol conviction in their past did NOT go on to be accused of a more serious crime in the years after their conviction.
I have seen family and friends impacted by drunk driving. I’ve stood by hospital beds and watched people I care about deeply engage in a years-long recovery after the injuries they received from a drunk driver. I know what a serious crime it can be. I also don’t think we should be stripping people of their right to keep and bear arms for the smallest of misdemeanor offenses. As the Nevada State Supreme Court recently opined, when you take away someone’s constitutional rights, that automatically presumes that the offense is a serious one. We don’t take away people’s constitutional rights for minor crimes, at least in theory. Yet that’s exactly what the Bloomberg editors (and their boss) want to do.