U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Weapons offenses and offenders: Firearms, crime, and criminal justice

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 5 P.M. EST           BJS
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1995          202/307-0784

 23 PERCENT OF THOSE ARRESTED FOR WEAPONS OFFENSES
           ARE YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS OLD

     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Almost a quarter of those
arrested for weapons offenses are minors, the
Department of Justice said today.  In a study of
people arrested for weapons offenses during 1993,
23 percent were under age 18.  More than nine out
of ten were males.  More than half were white.

     The arrest rate for weapons offenses for 18-
year-old males--one arrest for every one hundred
18 year olds--was three times higher than for
males 25 to 29 and five times higher than for
males 30 to 34, according to the Bureau of Justice
Statistics (BJS) study.

     Weapons offenses include the illegal
possession, use, trafficking, carrying,
manufacturing, importing or exporting of deadly
devices such as guns, ammunition, silencers,
explosives and some types of knives.
 
     Most felony weapons convictions are in state
courts (96 percent).  However, federal-level
weapons investigations, prosecutions and
convictions have increased substantially.  

     Between 1980 and 1992 the number of suspects
investigated by U.S. Attorneys for weapons
violations increased four-fold, and the number
prosecuted increased five-fold.  From 1985 through
1992 federal prison admissions for weapons
violations grew from 4.9 percent to 10.2 percent
of all federal prison admissions.  

     Arrest rates for weapons offenses during 1993
varied dramatically among the states and the
District of Columbia.  The five highest rates per
100,000 population were:

               D.C.           301
               Missouri       199
               Wisconsin      165
               Georgia        149
               Louisiana      142

     The five lowest rates per 100,000 population
were:

               Iowa           30
               North Dakota   25
               Maine          23
               New Hampshire  16
               Montana        12
               Vermont         1

     Urban areas accounted for the most arrests on
weapons charges, with 81 percent.  The suburbs
contributed 14 percent of the arrests and rural
areas 5 percent.

     More than 200,000 adults were arrested for
weapons violations during 1992.  Most weapons
offenses are tried as misdemeanors but about
26,000 people were convicted of felony weapons
charges in state courts that year.

     During 1992 about four in 10 convicted state
felony weapons offenders received a prison term,
with sentences averaging about four years.  Almost
nine in 10 (86 percent) convicted federal weapons
violators received a prison term, with sentences
averaging more than six years (77 months).  The
average federal sentence for a weapons conviction
in 1990 was almost four years (47 months).  

     Weapons violators accounted for about 2
percent of the state prison population and about 6
percent of the federal prison population.  The
average state and federal prison time served for a
weapons offense was just under two years.

     Many of those accused of weapons offenses
were on probation, parole or bail or had a prior
criminal history.  According to the study:

       Of the felony-weapons defendants in the 75
largest counties in 1992, two-fifths were on
probation, parole or pretrial release at the time
of they were arrested.  One-third had been
convicted of a felony previously. 

       Of weapons offenders in state prison,
about 90 percent had been sentenced to probation
or incarceration previously.  Moreover, 60 percent
of these offenders had been on probation or parole
from earlier offenses at the time they were
imprisoned for the weapons offense.  

       Three out of four federal prisoners
serving time for a weapons offense had a prior
felony conviction record.

     The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
report, "Weapons Offenses and Offenders" (NCJ-
155284), was written by statisticians Lawrence A.
Greenfeld and Marianne W. Zawitz.  Single copies
may be obtained by facsimile transmission by
dialing 301-216-1827 or by calling the BJS
Clearinghouse, Box 179, Annapolis Junction,
Maryland 20701-1079. 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 202/616-3283.    
      
After hours contact:  Stu Smith at 301-983-9354

(END OF FILE)



ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 5 P.M. EST                  
         BJS
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1995                          
202/307-0784



 23 PERCENT OF THOSE ARRESTED FOR WEAPONS OFFENSES
           ARE YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS OLD
 
     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Almost a quarter of those
arrested for weapons offenses are minors, the
Department of Justice said today.  In a study of
people arrested for weapons offenses during 1993,
23 percent were under age 18.  More than nine out
of ten were males.  More than half were white.
     The arrest rate for weapons offenses for 18-
year-old males--one arrest for every one hundred
18 year olds--was three times higher than for
males 25 to 29 and five times higher than for
males 30 to 34, according to the Bureau of Justice
Statistics (BJS) study.
     Weapons offenses include the illegal
possession, use, trafficking, carrying,
manufacturing, importing or exporting of deadly
devices such as guns, ammunition, silencers,
explosives and some types of knives.
     Most felony weapons convictions are in state
courts 
(96 percent).  However, federal-level weapons
investigations, prosecutions and convictions have
increased substantially.  

                      (MORE)
                      - 2 - 

     Between 1980 and 1992 the number of suspects
investigated by U.S. Attorneys for weapons
violations increased four-fold, and the number
prosecuted increased five-fold.  From 1985 through
1992 federal prison admissions for weapons
violations grew from 4.9 percent to 10.2 percent
of all federal prison admissions.  
     Arrest rates for weapons offenses during 1993
varied 
dramatically among the states and the District of
Columbia.  The 
five highest rates per 100,000 population were:

                         D.C.           301
                         Missouri       199
                         Wisconsin      165
                         Georgia        149
                         Louisiana      142

     The five lowest rates per 100,000 population
were:

                         Iowa           30
                         North Dakota   25
                         Maine          23
                         New Hampshire  16
                         Montana        12
                         Vermont         1

     Urban areas accounted for the most arrests on
weapons charges, with 81 percent.  The suburbs
contributed 14 percent of the arrests and rural
areas 5 percent.
     More than 200,000 adults were arrested for
weapons 
violations during 1992.  Most weapons offenses are
tried as 
misdemeanors but about 26,000 people were
convicted of felony weapons charges in state
courts that year.
     During 1992 about four in 10 convicted state
felony weapons 

                      (MORE)
                      - 3 - 

offenders received a prison term, with sentences
averaging about four years.  Almost nine in 10 (86
percent) convicted federal weapons violators
received a prison term, with sentences averaging
more than six years (77 months).  The average
federal sentence for a weapons conviction in 1990
was almost four years (47 months).  
     Weapons violators accounted for about 2
percent of the state prison population and about 6
percent of the federal prison population.  The
average state and federal prison time served for a
weapons offense was just under two years.
     Many of those accused of weapons offenses
were on probation, parole or bail or had a prior
criminal history.  According to the study:
       Of the felony-weapons defendants in the 75
largest counties in 1992, two-fifths were on
probation, parole or pretrial release at the time
of they were arrested.  One-third had been
convicted of a felony previously. 
       Of weapons offenders in state prison,
about 90 percent had been sentenced to probation
or incarceration previously.  Moreover, 60 percent
of these offenders had been on probation or parole
from earlier offenses at the time they were
imprisoned for the weapons offense.  
       Three out of four federal prisoners
serving time for a 

                      (MORE)
                      - 4 - 

weapons offense had a prior felony conviction
record.
     The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
report, "Weapons 
Offenses and Offenders" (NCJ-155284), was written
by statisticians Lawrence A. Greenfeld and
Marianne W. Zawitz.  Single copies may be obtained
by facsimile transmission by dialing 301-216-1827
or by calling the BJS Clearinghouse, Box 179,
Annapolis Junction, Maryland 20701-1079. 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 202/616-3283.    
      


                      # # # 










BJS96-2  
After hours contact:  Stu Smith at 301-983-9354
Date Created: May 28, 2009