The Two-Decade Drop in U.S. Gun Crimes


Firearm-related homicides dropped 39 percent between 1993 and 2011, and nonfatal firearm crimes fell 69 percent during the same period, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today.

The annual count of gun murders went from 18,253 to 11,101, and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.

Most of the decline happened during the first decade studied, 1993 to 2002.

In 2011, nearly 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.

Despite the focus by gun-rights supporters on use of firearms in self-defense, BJS said that from 2007 to 2011, under one percent of victims in all nonfatal violent crimes reported using a firearm to defend themselves during the incident.

From 1993 to 2010, males, blacks, and people 18 to 24 years old were most likely to be victims of firearm-related homicide. In 2004, the most recent year of available data, among state prison inmates who possessed a gun at the time of their offense, fewer than two percent bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show.

Nearly 10 percent of inmates said they purchased it from a retail store or pawnshop, 37 percent from family or friends, and another 40 percent from an illegal source.

Read the full report HERE.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington DC bureau chief of The Crime Report. He welcomes comments from readers.

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