This study examined whether the purchase of a handgun from a licensed dealer is associated with the risk of homicide or suicide & whether any association varied with time since purchase. A case-control study was done for the period 1980-92. 5 controls were matched to each of 353 suicide victims & 117 homicide victims. The adjusted relative risk for suicide was 1.9 & 2.2 for homicide. The elevated relative risk persisted for both suicide & homicide for more than 5 years after the purchase.