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Keywords:

  • Violence;
  • Injury;
  • Alcohol;
  • Alcohol Outlets;
  • Geography;
  • Epidemiology

Background:  We conducted a population-based case–control study to better delineate the relationship between individual alcohol consumption, alcohol outlets in the surrounding environment, and being assaulted with a gun.

Methods:  An incidence density sampled case–control study was conducted in the entire city of Philadelphia from 2003 to 2006. We enrolled 677 cases that had been shot in an assault and 684 population-based controls. The relationships between 2 independent variables of interest, alcohol consumption and alcohol outlet availability, and the outcome of being assaulted with a gun were analyzed. Conditional logistic regression was used to adjust for numerous confounding variables.

Results:  After adjustment, heavy drinkers were 2.67 times as likely to be shot in an assault when compared with nondrinkers (p < 0.10) while light drinkers were not at significantly greater risk of being shot in an assault when compared with nondrinkers. Regression-adjusted analyses also demonstrated that being in an area of high off-premise alcohol outlet availability significantly increased the risk of being shot in an assault by 2.00 times (p < 0.05). Being in an area of high on-premise alcohol outlet availability did not significantly change this risk. Heavy drinkers in areas of high off-premise alcohol outlet availability were 9.34 times (p < 0.05) as likely to be shot in an assault.

Conclusions:  This study finds that the gun assault risk to individuals who are near off-premise alcohol outlets is about the same as or statistically greater than the risk they incur from heavy drinking. The combination of heavy drinking and being near off-premise outlets resulted in greater risk than either factor alone. By comparison, light drinking and being near on-premise alcohol outlets were not associated with increased risks for gun assault. Cities should consider addressing alcohol-related factors, especially off-premise outlets, as highly modifiable and politically feasible approaches to reducing gun violence.