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Shootings Linked to Alcohol-to-Go Outlets, Study Finds

Tighter controls are urged to help reduce urban violence

TUESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- The chances of being shot increase when excess drinking occurs near a place that sells alcohol to go, according to a study by University of Pennsylvania researchers.

"Individuals in and around off-premise alcohol outlets were shot as the victims of predatory crimes, possibly because they had heavily consumed and were easier targets or they were shot as the victims of otherwise tractable arguments that became violent, because one or more of the combatants had consumed alcohol," Charles C. Branas, an associate professor of epidemiology at the university and corresponding author of the study, said in a university news release.

Light drinking and being near bars, taverns and other places that sold alcohol but not on a to-go basis were not linked to an increased chance of being a victim of gun play, he said.

"On-premise outlets were by comparison highly monitored, relatively safe havens, even in neighborhoods with high levels of gun violence," Branas said.

The researchers, who looked at assaults that took place in Philadelphia from 2003 to 2006, said that reducing the density in certain areas of outlets that sell alcohol to go and training employees at the outlets might help reduce gun violence.

The study, published online March 10, was expected to be in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Rose Cheney, executive director of the Firearm and Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said the findings would provide municipalities with another tool in the war against gun violence.

"Research findings such as these allow us to intervene earlier, more comprehensively interrupt pathways toward violence, and better document the impact of investments in prevention," she said. "In addition, while firearm homicides are most visible, focusing on the broader outcome of firearm injuries and their repercussions to individuals and communities will increase our chances of success."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on alcohol consumption.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania, news release, March 10, 2009

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