U.S. Department of Justices
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Crime Data Brief
Violence by Gang Members, 1993-2003
June 2005, NCJ 208875
By Erika Harrell
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS),
victims perceived perpetrators to be gang members in about
6% of violent victimizations between 1998 and 2003. On
average for each year, gang members committed about
373,000 of the 6.6 million violent victimizations. Nonfatal
violent acts measured include rape/sexual assault, robbery,
aggravated assault, and simple assault.
Victims believed that perpetrators were not gang members in
55% of all nonfatal violent crimes between 1998 and 2003, and
victims were unsure of gang affiliation in 37%. The 1998-2003
average is lower than that for the 1993-96 period, when victims
in about 9% of all violent crimes believed the offenders to have
been gang members.
Violence by perceived gang members declined over most of
the 11-year period, falling from a 1994 peak of about 1.1
million violent victimizations (5.2 per 1,000 persons age 12 or
older) to 341,000 (1.4 per 1,000) in 2003.
Males experienced violence attributed to gang members at
higher rates than those of females.
Hispanic victims of violence identified the offenders as gang
members at a higher rate than non-Hispanic victims, and
blacks at a higher rate than whites, for the period between
1993 and 2003.
Victims believed the offenders were gang members in about
12% of all aggravated assaults that occurred between 1993
and 2003. Offenders were identified as gang members in
about 4% of rapes, 10% of robberies, and 6% of simple
Between 1993 and 2003 younger victims of violence were
more likely than older victims to believe the perpetrator was a
gang member. Offenders were perceived to be gang members
in 12% of violent crimes against those age 12 -19. The
offender was identified as a gang member in about 6% of
violent crimes against persons age 20-49 and in about 4% of
violent crimes against those age 50 or older.
Urban victims were more likely than suburban or rural victims
to identify offenders as gang members.
Police were as likely to be notified when the victims believed
the offender not to be a gang member (45% of violence
reported to the police) as when they believed the offender
belonged to a gang (47% reported).
Of the violence that victims believed gang members committed
between 1993 and 2003, a lone offender accounted for about
54% and more than one offender, 46%.
According to the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports, each year
between 1993 and 2003, from 5% to 7% of all homicides and from 8%
to 10% of homicides committed with a firearm were gang related.
Except for homicides, all data presented in this report are from the
NCVS. For more information see the methodology section of Criminal
Victimization, 2003: .