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Firearms and Crimes of Violence: Selected Findings From National Statistical Series

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 1994
This statistical report presents key findings from Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys relating to crime and the role of firearms; data from the national surveys describe the extent to which victims confront armed offenders, the consequences of victimization, and how offenders obtain and use firearms.

Survey data indicate that an average of 6.7 million violent crimes occur yearly in the United States. Violent crime victims report that the offender had a firearm in almost 13 percent of the crimes. In 1992, more than 16,000 persons were murdered with firearms. Between 1987 and 1992, over 40 million violent crimes were reported by victims of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. Over the same period, victims faced armed offenders in 5.1 million violent incidents and in 85,453 murders and non- negligent manslaughters. An average of 161,000 violent crimes with firearms resulted in injury or death. Rape victims reported that about 6 percent of their attackers used a handgun. Law enforcement agencies nationwide indicated that 600,000 firearm crimes were brought to their attention yearly. Firearms were involved in a larger percentage of murders than in other violent crimes, and the number of violent firearm crimes reported to law enforcement authorities increased by nearly one-third between 1980 and 1992. Rates of victimization involving handguns were the highest among persons between 16 and 19 years of age. Further, a disproportionate number of young black men died from gunshots. Handgun crimes, like all serious violent crimes, affected young people more than older persons. Between 1987 and 1992, criminals used handguns to murder 371 law enforcement officers. In addition, almost 30 percent of violent inmates carried a gun during the crime for which they were sentenced to prison. Theft and burglary were major sources of firearms for criminals, and a survey of male high school students found that 22 percent possessed firearms. An appendix contains additional data on violent crimes involving the use of firearms. 5 tables and 9 figures

Date Published: February 1, 1994