NEWS | April 15, 2009

Expert available: Gun dealers, gun shows, crime guns and public health


News about the escalating and deadly violence among the drug cartels based in Mexico has highlighted the flow of firearms easily obtained in the United States and used in killings across the border. The situation has prompted Mexican officials to ask U.S. authorities to clamp down on the sources of those weapons, which frequently include both gun dealers and gun shows in the border states.

Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine and a leading researcher in the field of injury epidemiology and the prevention of firearm violence, is available to comment on the impacts of high-risk gun dealers, illegal sales and gun shows, as well as other topics related to firearms, crime and public health.

Wintemute directs the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program and has authored more than 50 journal articles on gun violence and prevention. His research investigates the nature, cause and impact of gun violence, with a goal of helping law enforcement and public policymakers develop more effective approaches for preventing illegal gun use and violence.

Wintemute’s most recent study, based on observations made while visiting gun shows in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Florida, explores the illegal gun market and the ease with which weapons can be purchased. He also has published a study showing how increased regulation of gun shows can reduce the ability of criminals to obtain firearms.

Separately, he has studied gun retailers who sell a disproportionate number of guns that are later used in crime and has identified the characteristics that separate these high-risk retailers from others.

The UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program is a multidisciplinary effort researching the causes and prevention of serious violence with an emphasis on firearm violence. In addition to gun show and handgun retailer studies, other projects have included: evaluations of the effectiveness of denying firearm purchase to previously convicted criminals, the relationship between gun design and gun violence, the effectiveness of gun buyback programs, and the risk for a violent death associated with the purchase of a handgun. More information is available at

Media contact for Dr. Wintemute: Charles Casey at (916) 734-9048 or Dr. Wintemute also can be contacted directly at