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Guns Used in Crime

Handguns Used in More Than One Million Violent Crimes, The Use of Semi-Automatic Guns In Murders Is Increasing


ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 5 P.M. EDT                             BJS 
SUNDAY, JULY 9, 1995                                 202-307-0784


     WASHINGTON, D.C.--About 1.3 million U.S. residents faced an
assailant armed with a firearm during 1993, the Department of Justice
announced today.  Eighty-six percent of the time (in 1.1 million violent
crimes) the weapons were handguns.  Seventy percent of the 24,526
murders in 1993 were committed with firearms, of which four out of five
were with a handgun.  Recent studies indicate that the use of large caliber
semi-automatic handguns in homicides has been increasing.   

     The information is included in a report by the Department's Bureau
of Justice Statistics (BJS) on guns used in crime that summarizes
information from a number of different sources, such as BJS's National
Crime Victimization Survey, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports and
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) files.  

     During 1993 there were 4.4 million murders, rapes, robberies and
aggravated assaults in the United States--more than one-quarter involved
a gun.  However, the report notes that most guns in the U.S. are not used
to commit crimes.

     Handguns predominate in firearms crime.  More than three-quarters
of the 83,000 guns used in crime that ATF traced for law enforcement
agencies in 1994 were handguns.  Almost 60 percent of the 2 million
stolen gun reports in the FBI's National Crime Information Center files
are handguns.

     More than half of all the handguns manufactured domestically  since
the turn of the century are 20 years old or less.  From 1973 through 1993,
more than 40 million handguns were produced in the United States.

     The predominant type of handgun produced has also changed during
the last two decades from manual revolvers to semi-automatic pistols. 
Firearms used by offenders reflect a trend toward semi-automatic pistols. 
Last year, nine of the 10 most frequently traced guns were pistols.  About
a third of the 83,000 traced guns were 3 years old or less and one-fifth
were 1 year old or less.     

     Most firearms in circulation are rifles and shotguns, not handguns. 
While precise estimates of the numbers and types of firearms in operating
condition are not known, about one-third of the 223 million firearms
manufactured for domestic sale or imported into the United States from
1899 through 1993 were handguns (77 million) and two-thirds were rifles
(79 million) or shotguns (66 million).

     Surveys of inmates show that they prefer concealable, large- caliber
guns and that juvenile offenders appear to be more likely 
to possess semi-automatic weapons than adult offenders.

     Single copies of the publication "Guns Used In Crime" (NCJ-148201),
written by BJS statistician Marianne W. Zawitz, may be obtained from the
BJS Clearinghouse, Box 179, Annapolis Junction, Maryland 20701-0179. 
The telephone number is 1-800-732-3277.  Fax orders to 410-792-4358. 

     Data from tables and graphs used in many BJS reports can be obtained
in spreadsheet files on 5. and 3. inch diskettes by
calling 202-307-0784.          
After hours contact:  Stu Smith 301-983-9354
Date Published: July 9, 1995