Gun Crimes Increased Over Two Years to 2017: BJS

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Illustration by Kostya Vacuum via Flickr

Crimes involving firearms increased from 284,910 in 2015 to 456,270 last year, while other types of crime such as burglary and auto theft went down,  the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports in its annual National Crime Victimization Survey.

But the survey also noted that the overall number of American victimized by violent crime increased only fractionally between 2016 and 2017.

An estimated 3.1 million U.S. residents were victimized by violent crime during 2017, up from 2.9 million in 2016 and 2.7 million in 2015—a year-to-year increase that the agency said was not “statistically significant.”

BJS released the annual survey results late Friday.

The victimization survey differs from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, which is based on voluntary reports by citizens to local police departments, which then relay the totals to the FBI.

The FBI annual report, which was released in September, estimated 1,247,321 violent crimes last year nationwide, a decrease of .2 percent from 2016.

Trends in the victimization survey were mixed among crime types. Robbery victimizations increased from from 1.7 per 1,000 residents age 12 or older in 2016 to 2.3 per 1,000 in 2017. (The victimization survey does not measure homicides, because it is based on a survey of residents asking if they had been victimized.)

The burglary rate dropped from 23.7 victimizations per 1,000 households in 2016 to 20.6 per 1,000 households in 2017.

Motor vehicle thefts went down over two years, from 618,330 in 2015 to 516,810 last year.

The proportion of U.S. residents 12 or older who had been a victim of violent crime during the previous six months increased from 0.98 percent in 2015 to 1.14 percent in 2017. This 2-year rise in the prevalence of violent crime was driven primarily by an increase in simple assaults, which usually are not felonies.

Categories of the population reporting increased victimization last year included women, whites, people ages 12 to 17 and 65 and over, and those who were divorced or had never married. The portion of Asians victimized by violent crime decreased.

Property crime overall decreased from 2016 to 2017, falling from 118.6 victimizations per 1,000 households to 108.4. Property crime also dropped the previous year.

Continuing a long trend, residents interviewed said they reported about 45 percent of violent victimizations and 36 percent of property victimizations were reported to police last year.

Only eight percent of violent crime victims received assistance from a victim-service agency last year, similar to the number in 2016.

The percentage of rapes or sexual assaults that were reported to police rose from 23 percent in 2016 to 40 percent in 2017.

Crime in the U.S. reached its highest totals in modern history in the early 1990s.

The long-term trend over a 24-year period shows the rate of violent victimizations declining 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, from 79.9 to 20.6 victimizations per 1,000 residents 12 or older.

The victimization survey included interviews in 145,508 households. Within participating households, 239,541 persons completed an interview in 2017, BJS said.

The main Justice Department did not issue an immediate comment on the victimization survey results.

Last year, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the victimization survey for 2016 and asserted that there had been a 13 percent increase in violent crime that year.

However, BJS said that the survey in 2016 “went through a routine redesign in 2016, which resulted in the 2016 data not being comparable to data from prior years.”

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