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Firearm Injury from Crime
Firearms, crime, and criminal justice

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Statistics

Selected Findings

Firearm Injury from Crime
Firearms, crime, and criminal justice

April 1996, NCJ-160093

By Marianne W. Zawitz
BJS Statistician

The full text of this report is available
through--
*the BJS Clearinghouse, 1-800-732-3277
*on the Internet at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/
*on the BJS gopher:
gopher://www.ojp.usdoj.gov:70/11/bjs/
*on the National Criminal Justice Reference
Service Electronic Bulletin Board (set at 8-N-1,
call 301-738-8895, select BJS.

* * * * *

Highlights

* Of the victims of nonfatal violent crime who
faced an assailant armed with a firearm, 3%
suffered gunshot wounds.

* Over half of all nonfatal firearm-
related injuries treated in emergency departments
were known to have resulted from an assault.

* An estimated 57,500 nonfatal gunshot wounds from
assaults were treated in hospital emergency
departments from June 1992 through May 1993.

* Of those victims who received nonfatal gunshot
wounds from crime and were treated in an emergency
room, 65% arrived by emergency medical service,
rescue squad, or ambulance.

* Almost half of the victims of nonfatal gunshot
wounds from crime were shot in an arm, hand, leg,
or foot.

* About 60% of the victims of nonfatal firearm
injury from crime who went to an emergency room
were subsequently hospitalized.

* Over half of the victims of nonfatal gunshot
wounds from crime who were treated in emergency
departments were black males; a quarter were black
males age 15-24.

* While the majority of victims of intentional
gunshot wounds were black, most victims of
unintentional firearm injury and suicide attempts
with firearms were white.

* For 12% of the victims of nonfatal gunshot
wounds from crime, the term "drive-by" was used to
describe the assault.

* The firearm injury rate for police officers
declined in the early 1980s and began climbing
again after 1987, but has not exceeded the peak
reached in 1980-81.

This report is the third in a series on firearms,
crime, and criminal justice. The first report in
the series, Guns Used in Crime (NCJ-148201, July
1995), includes definitions of commonly used
firearm terms.

* * * * *

What information is available
about firearm injury from crime?

Firearm injuries caused by crime include those
caused by interpersonal violence regardless of
whether or not the victim was the intended target.
Such injuries can be fatal (homicides) or nonfatal
(assaults). As discussed on page 6, firearm
homicide data from several good sources have been
available for many years. Little data on nonfatal
firearm injuries caused by crime were available
until recently. While many jurisdictions have
laws mandating the reporting of gunshot wounds to
law enforcement, there is no national registry of
such injuries.

To understand firearm injury better, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiated
the Firearms Injury Surveillance Study in June
1992. As discussed in the Methodology, this study
collects data about gun-related injuries treated
at hospital emergency departments through the
Consumer Product Safety Commission's National
Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Firearm-related crime and resulting injury is a
relatively rare event

* In 1994 the BJS National Crime Victimization
Survey (NCVS) found that 29% of the victims of
nonfatal violent crime, excluding simple assault,
faced an offender armed with a gun.

* An earlier analysis of NCVS data for 1987-92
found that of the victims of nonfatal violent
crime who faced an assailant armed with a firearm,
3% suffered gunshot wounds.

* According to the 1992 National Hospital
Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, about 0.3% of all
injury visits to emergency departments (3 of every
1,000 visits) were caused by firearms. This
estimate includes all causes of firearm injury and
may also include visits for patients seeking
follow-up care and patients who died at the
hospital.

How often are victims injured as a result of
crimes committed with firearms?

According to an analysis of NCVS data for 1987-92,
about 17% of the victims of nonfatal gun crimes
were injured. Of those injured, 61% received
minor injuries. Few of those injured in nonfatal
gun crimes received injuries that resulted from
the discharge of a firearm; about 19% of the
victims injured in gun crimes suffered from
gunshot wounds. The NCVS does not include victims
who died.


Percent of victims
Injured in gun crime 100%
Gunshot wound 19
Serious injury 15
Rape/Attempted rape 5
Minor injury 61

Of the victims who suffered gunshot wounds, over
90% reported that they were treated at a hospital.

How many people are injured by
firearms and how many are
the result of crime?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) estimates that between June 1, 1992, and May
31, 1993, about 99,000 nonfatal firearm-related
injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency
departments. Of these, an estimated 57,500
nonfatal gunshot wounds were known to have
resulted from assaults. (95% confidence interval
estimates the number to be between 33,800 to
81,000. See Methodology.)

Of the total firearm injuries--
* 58% resulted from assaults
* 20% were unintentional
* 5% were suicide attempts
* 1% were legal interventions
* 16% were from unknown causes.

CDC estimates that there were 3.3 nonfatal
firearms-related injuries from assault or legal
intervention for every firearm-related homicide.
While most nonfatal firearm-related injuries are
the result of intentional, interpersonal
violence, most firearm-related deaths are
self-inflicted. According to the Vital
Statistics, 37,776 firearm deaths occurred in
1992; 48% were suicides, and 47% homicides/legal
interventions, and 4% unintentional.

How did the victims of firearm
injury from crime get to the hospital?

About two-thirds of the victims of gunshot wounds
from crime who were treated in emergency
departments were taken to the emergency department
by an emergency medical service, ambulance, or
rescue squad.


Percent of victims
Mode of transport of gunshot
to the hospital wounds from crime

EMS/Rescue/Ambulance 65%
Private vehicle 19
Walk-in 6
Police 4
Unknown 4
Air transport 2

Source: Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, Firearm Injury Surveillance Study,
June 1, 1992, through May 31, 1993...

The complete and very detailed report can be found at; http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/fifc.txt

- Janq
 
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