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Firearms and Crimes of Violence

Violent Offenders Increasingly Likely to be Armed

U.S. Department of Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    BJS
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 1994                     202-307-0784
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Violent offenders are increasingly
likely to be armed, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
said today.  While the overall violent crime rate decreased
during the last decade, the rate of offenses committed with
pistols and revolvers rose from 9.2 percent in 1979 to 12.7
percent in 1992.
     From 1987 through 1992 there was an annual average of
858,000 rapes, robberies and assaults with firearms of all
types, according to BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey.
The FBI reported 16,000 firearm murders during 1992, and
the number of all violent crimes with firearms reported to the
FBI grew 55 percent from 1987 through 1992--from 365,709 to
     Young people from 16 through 19 years old were the most
frequent victims of firearm violence.  During 1992 this age
group had a per capita firearm victimization rate 21 percent
higher than those 20 through 24 years old, three times the
rate for those aged 35-49, almost eight times higher than
those aged 50-64 and 15 times higher than those 65 years old
or older.
     The data are from a "Selected Highlights on Firearms and
Crime of Violence:  Selected Findings from National
Statistical Series" report that also noted:
     --Between 1987 and 1992 there were 415 law enforcement
officers murdered--91 percent with firearms--73 percent
handguns, 19 percent rifles and 8 percent shotguns (excluding
those cases in which the officer's own gun was used).
     --In a nationally representative sample of state prison
inmates, 16 percent said they were carrying a firearm during
the commission of the offense for which they were serving
time, and one-half of those said they fired the weapon during
the crime.
     --Among state prison inmates with a prior adult criminal
record who possessed handguns, 23 percent said they bought the
weapon from a retail store.
     --An estimated 5,000 murderers who were serving time in a state
prison for committing a crime with a handgun had purchased their gun
in a store or gun shop despite having had a prior record.
     --More than 50 percent of the prison inmates who obtained
a handgun illegally said they did so to avoid a background
check or a waiting period.
     --From 1987 through 1991 the number of firearm homicides
among young people 15 to 19 years old grew 66 percent for
white females, 32 percent for black females, 108 percent for
white males and 137 percent for black males.
     Single copies of the report, "Firearms and Crimes of
Violence" (order number NCJ-146844), may be obtained from the
National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Box 6000,
Rockville, Maryland 20850.  The telephone number is
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Date Published: February 1, 1994