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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EMBARGOED UNTIL 4:30 P.M. EDT BJS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2000 202/307-0784 FIREARMS ASSAULT INJURIES AND MURDERS FELL BETWEEN 1993 AND 1997 WASHINGTON, D.C. The number of gunshot wounds from any type of crime fell nearly 40 percent during the five-year period from 1993 through 1997, according to a new comprehensive Justice Department report. The Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) cites data from multiple sources, including its National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS), as well as hospital emergency department intake information and death certificates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and law enforcement homicide reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Twenty-eight percent of the serious, non-fatal violent victimizations that occurred from 1993 through 1997 were committed with a firearm. According to BJS' household survey of crime victims, 4 percent of the serious victimizations were committed with a firearm and resulted in injuries, and less than 1 percent resulted in gunshot wounds. About 80 percent of gunshot wound victims sought medical treatment in a hospital. The CDC data showed that gunshot wounds from any type of crime fell 39 percent--from 64,100 to 39,400 during the five-year period. Firearm-related homicides fell 27 percent--from 18,300 to 13,300--during the same period. The BJS report said the CDC's Firearm Injury Surveillance Study showed that 62 percent of non-fatal firearm injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms were assaults, 17 percent were accidents, 6 percent were suicide attempts, 1 percent were from law enforcement activity and 13 percent were from unknown causes. The CDC's Vital Statistics data indicated that 44 percent of firearm deaths were homicides. CDC's data further showed that during the five-year period from 1993 through 1997 there were an estimated 3.3 non-fatal gunshot injuries from assaults treated in emergency rooms for every single firearm-related homicide. According to CDC and FBI data, four out of five victims of both fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries from assaults were male and nearly half of all victims were black males. Black males ages 15-24 made up 26 percent of all the non-fatal gunshot victims and 22 percent of all homicides, according to data from the FBI. The BJS report also indicates that 38 percent of the gunshot assault victims and 31 percent of the homicide victims were ages 18 to 24, while juveniles under 18 years old accounted for 16 percent of non-fatal firearm assault victims and 10 percent of firearm homicides. FBI statistics indicated that from 1993 to 1997, 60 percent of offenders who used a firearm to commit murder were younger than 25: 17 percent were juveniles (younger than 18 years old) and 24 percent were between 18 and 20 years old. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports indicated that 1 percent of serious violent crimes reported to police from 1993 to 1997 were homicides, 69 percent of which were committed with firearms. For 56 percent of the non-fatal firearm assault victims the relationship to the offenders was unknown. Approximately 11 percent were injured by someone known to them. According to firearm homicide data in the FBI's Supplemental Homicide Reports, the victim's relationship to the offender was unknown in 41 percent of cases, while in 44 percent of the cases, the killer was someone the victim knew and in 15 percent the killer was a stranger. Among gunshot assault cases where the firearm type was provided, 82 percent of non-fatal victims were shot with a handgun. In firearm homicide cases, 81 percent of victims were killed with a handgun, 6 percent with shotguns, 5 percent with rifles and 7 percent with unspecified firearms. Data reported to the FBI indicated that in 1998 more than 400 police officers were injured in firearm assaults, and 58 police officers were killed by a firearm while responding to a crime. The firearm injury rate for police officers declined in the early 1980s and began climbing again after 1987. In the late 1990s, however, firearm injury rates fell to their lowest level in the 1978-1998 period. The report, "Firearm Injury and Death from Crime, 1993-97" (NCJ-182993) was written by BJS statisticians Marianne W. Zawitz and Kevin J. Strom. Single copies may be obtained from the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing 301/519-5550, listening to the complete menu and selecting document number 217. Or call the BJS clearinghouse at 1-800-732-3277. Fax orders for mail delivery to 410/492-4358. After 4:30 p.m. October 8 the full report may be obtained from the BJS Internet site at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs Website at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov # # # BJS00228 After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
Date Published: October 8, 2000