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Firearm Injury and Death from Crime, 1993-97


EMBARGOED UNTIL 4:30 P.M. EDT                          BJS
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8,  2000                      202/307-0784                  

  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

       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:


  Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the
Office of Justice Programs Website at:

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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354         

Date Published: October 8, 2000