The vast majority of violent crimes do not involve firearms.
“About 70 percent of all homicides and eight percent of all nonfatal violent victimizations (rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault) were committed with a firearm.”
When firearms are used, the overwhelming majority are handguns.
About one percent of victims in all nonfatal violent crimes reported using a firearm to defend themselves during the incident.
By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.
Thirty-five years of supervising public affairs for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Management for the National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Master’s Certificate-Johns Hopkins University.
We have a student question as to the use of firearms in violent crime.
There are two primary sources for this information, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, both from the US Department of Justice. For an explanation of the data collection methods used for both reports, see Crime in America. In essence, the FBI uses reported crime and the Bureau of justice Statistics uses a survey to collect data on all crime. Most crime is not reported to law enforcement agencies, thus the need for a national survey.
We are using numbers from the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for 2015, currently used by 36 percent of law enforcement agencies that take part in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.
We are also using longitudinal (long-range) data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (1993 to 2011) to get a better sense of the numbers. The report was published in 2013.
There are endless discussions as to weapon use in violent crime with an emphasis on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
The great majority of violent crime does not involve firearms.
Automatic rifles or rifles of any kind make up a tiny percentage of firearm use during violent crime (see chart below).
This article does not address suicides or accidents. This article does not take a side as to pro or anti-gun efforts.
According to the FBI, per the assault category, 60,200 involved firearms, 39,600 were associated with knives, 683,300 involved the use of hands-feet-fists (personal weapons) and 137,000 involved other objects (i.e., blunt weapons). No weapons of any kind were associated with assaults in 79,600 cases.
Assaults constitute the vast majority of violent crime in the US.
It’s a different story for homicides. 3,062 homicides involved firearms and 1,579 involved other weapons.
31,000 robberies involved firearms but 40,530 robberies involved knives, hands-feet-fists, all other weapons (i.e., blunt objects) or no weapons were used.
Bureau of Justice Statistics-Report, May, 2013
In 2011, about 70 percent of all homicides and eight percent of all nonfatal violent victimizations (rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault) were committed with a firearm, mainly a handgun.
Firearm-related homicides declined 39 percent and nonfatal firearm crimes declined 69 percent from 1993 to 2011. Firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.
For both fatal and nonfatal firearm victimizations, the majority of the decline occurred during the 10-year period from 1993 to 2002. The number of firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006 and then declined through 2011. Nonfatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004 before fluctuating in the mid- to late 2000s.
A handgun was used in about 7 in 10 firearm homicides and about 9 in 10 nonfatal firearm violent crimes in 2011. In the same year, about 26 percent of robberies and 31 percent of aggravated assaults involved a firearm, such as handguns, shotguns or rifles.
In 2007-11, about one percent of victims in all nonfatal violent crimes reported using a firearm to defend themselves during the incident.
A small number of property crime victims also used a firearm in self-defense—about 0.1 percent of all property victimizations.
The majority of nonfatal firearm violence occurred in or around the victim’s home (42 percent) or in an open area, on the street, or while on public transportation (23 percent). Less than one percent of all nonfatal firearm violence occurred in schools.
Where the FBI Data Comes From
The FBI released details on more than 5.6 million criminal offenses reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for 2015. The report includes what the bureau calls “a diverse range of information about victims, known offenders, and relationships for 23 offense categories comprised of 49 offenses.”
It also includes arrest data for those offense categories plus 10 more offenses for which only arrest data are collected.
NIBRS currently is used by 36 percent of law enforcement agencies that take part in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.
Because it offers a better picture of crime, NIBRS is supposed to replace the UCR (the current reporting program) by 2021. FBI.gov. See chart below:
BJS Source: The report, Firearm Violence, 1993–2011 (NCJ 241730), can be found on the BJS website at http://www.bjs.gov/.
How Many Firearms are in the United States?
There are 350 million firearms in the United States, see Washington Post
Are There Sources Beyond the Department of Justice?
There are endless sources on gun violence, mostly from advocates on either side of the pro or anti-gun discussion. See Wikipedia for an objective third source.
Crime in America at http://crimeinamerica.net
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