Gun Violence Statistics

Statistics on the Dangers of Handguns

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

From 1993 to 2001, an annual average of 737,360 violent crimes were committed with handguns in the U.S., making handguns seven times more likely to be used to commit violent crimes than other firearms.1

Although handguns make up only 34% of firearms, approximately 80% of firearm homicides are committed with a handgun.2

Women face an especially high risk of handgun violence.3 In 2008, 71% of female homicide victims were killed with a handgun.4

A California study found that in the first year after the purchase of a handgun, suicide was the leading cause of death among handgun purchasers.5 In the first week after the purchase of a handgun, the firearm suicide rate among the purchasers was 57 times as high as the adjusted rate in the general population.6

A 1991 study documenting the effectiveness of Washington, D.C.’s law banning handguns (this law was recently repealed following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling finding it unconstitutional in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008)) found that following the enactment of the ban in 1976, there was a 25% decline in homicides committed with firearms and a 23% decline in suicides committed with firearms within the District of Columbia.7 No similar reductions were observed in the number of homicides or suicides committed by other means, nor were similar reductions found in the adjacent metropolitan areas in Maryland and Virginia.8

As a result of its now-repealed handgun ban, the District of Columbia had the lowest rate of youth suicide in the nation – lower than any state.9

For more information about the dangers of handguns, see the Violence Policy Center publication Unintended Consequences: Pro-Handgun Experts Prove that Handguns Are a Dangerous Choice for Self-Defense.

  1. Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, National Crime Victimization Survey, 1993-2001 — Weapon Use and Violent Crime 3 (Sept. 2003). []
  2. Violence Policy Center, Handgun Ban Backgrounder (1999), at http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/hgbanfs.htm. []
  3. Garen J. Wintemute et al., Mortality Among Recent Purchasers of Handguns, 341 New Eng. J. Med. 1583, 1585 (Nov. 18, 1999). []
  4. Violence Policy Center, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2008 Homicide Data 7 (Sept. 2010), at http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2010.pdf. []
  5. Garen J. Wintemute et al., Mortality Among Recent Purchasers of Handguns, 341 New Eng. J. Med. 1583-1584 (Nov. 18, 1999). []
  6. Id. at 1585. []
  7. Colin Loftin et al., Effects of Restrictive Licensing of Handguns on Homicide and Suicide in the District of Columbia, 325 New Eng. J. Med. 1615, 1615-1620 (Dec. 5, 1991). []
  8. Id. []
  9. Violence Policy Center, Safe at Home: How D.C.’s Gun Laws Save Children’s Lives (July 2005), at http://www.vpc.org/studies/dcsuicide.pdf. []

Statistics on the Dangers of Permissive Concealed Weapons Permitting Laws

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Shall-issue laws permitting the carrying of concealed firearms (CCW) (where law enforcement has no discretion in issuing a permit or license) do not appear to reduce crime, and no credible statistical evidence exists that such permissive CCW laws reduce crime. There is evidence permissive CCW laws generally will increase crime.1

A National Academy of Sciences report reviewing existing data on the effectiveness of firearm laws, including research purporting to demonstrate that concealed carry (also called “right-to-carry”) laws reduce crime, found that the “evidence to date does not adequately indicate either the sign or the magnitude of a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates.”2

An analysis of Texas’ CCW law, (a law adopted in 1995 that overturned the state’s 125-year ban on concealed weapons), found that between January 1, 1996 and August 31, 2001, Texas license holders were arrested for 5,314 crimes, including murder, rape, kidnapping and theft.3

From 1996 to 2000, Texas CCW holders were arrested for weapons-related crimes at a rate 81% higher than that of the state’s general population age 21 and older.4

Since the Texas law took effect, more than 400 criminals – including rapists and armed robbers – had been issued CCW permits, and thousands of the 215,000 permit holders have been arrested for criminal behavior or found to be mentally unstable.5 The “largest category of problem licensees involve[d] those who committed crimes after getting their state” permits.6

Florida’s CCW system had, just in the first half of 2006, licensed more than 1,400 individuals who had pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies, 216 individuals with outstanding warrants, 128 people with active domestic violence injunctions against them, and six registered sex offenders.7

For additional information about the carrying of concealed weapons, including information on the dangers posed by carrying guns in public, see the Law Center’s Report America Caught in the Crossfire: How Concealed Carry Laws Threaten Public Safety and our Carrying Concealed Weapons Policy Summary.

.

  1. Ian Ayres & John J. Donohue III, Shooting Down the “More Guns, Less Crime” Hypothesis, 55 Stan. L. Rev. 1193, 1285, 1296 (Apr. 2003); Ian Ayres & John J. Donohue III, The Latest Misfires in Support of the “More Guns, Less Crime” Hypothesis, 55 Stan. L. Rev. 1371, 1397 (Apr. 2003). []
  2. National Research Council of the National Academies, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review 7, 120 – 151 (2005). Gun rights advocates have claimed that “shall issue” CCW laws are associated with a significant reduction in violent crime. See, e.g., John Lott, Jr. & David Mustard, Crime, Deterrence and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns, 26 J. Legal Stud. 1 (1997). Analyses have criticized the methodology and conclusions of these studies. See, e.g., Daniel Webster & Jens Ludwig, Myths about Defensive Gun Use and Permissive Gun Carry Laws, Berkeley Media Studies Group (2000); and John J. Donohue, The Impact of Concealed-Carry Laws, in Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Jens Ludwig & Philip J. Cook eds., 2003). []
  3. Violence Policy Center, License to Kill IV: More Guns, More Crime 1-2 (June 2002), at http://www.vpc.org/graphics/ltk4.pdf. []
  4. Id. at 5. []
  5. William C. Rempel & Richard A. Serrano, Felons Get Concealed Gun Licenses Under Bush’s ‘Tough’ Gun Law, L.A. Times, Oct. 3, 2000, at A1. []
  6. Id. []
  7. Megan O’Matz, In Florida, It’s Easy to Get a License to Carry a Gun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Jan. 28, 2007, at 1A. []

International & Comparative Statistics

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

The U.S. has the highest rate of firearm deaths among 25 high-income nations.1 Another study concluded that among 36 high-income and upper-middle-income countries, the U.S. has the highest overall gun mortality rate.2

The overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children under the age of 15 is nearly 12 times higher than that among children in 25 other industrialized nations combined.3

The firearm-related suicide rate for children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old in the United States is nearly 11 times higher than that in 25 other developed countries.4

Americans own far more civilian firearms – particularly handguns – than people in other industrialized nations and U.S. gun laws are among the most lax in the world.5

  1. Wendy Cukier and Victor Sidel, The Global Gun Epidemic: From Saturday Night Specials to AK-47s, 17 (2006). []
  2. Etienne G. Krug, Kenneth E. Powell & Linda L. Dahlberg, Firearm-Related Deaths in the United States and 35 Other High- and Upper-Middle Income Countries, 27 Int’l J. Epidemiology 214 (1998). []
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, Rates of Homicide, Suicide, and Firearm-Related Death Among Children – 26 Industrialized Countries (Feb. 7, 1997), at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00046149.htm. []
  4. Id. []
  5. Small Arms Survey, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City at 39 (Aug. 2007). Cukier et al., supra note 1, at 131 (“While gun control is extremely controversial in the United States, with opposition to even basic regulations such as licensing and registration, a review of legislation around the world shows that the norms in most countries, both industrialized and developing, are to strictly regulate civilian possession of firearms.”). See also David Hemenway, Private Guns, Public Health 197-202 (2004). For a simple, relevant comparison: For the period 2006/2007, England and Wales experienced 59 gun homicides, which were 8% of all homicides. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 03/08 – Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2006/07 (Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2006/07) 12, 46, available at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0308.pdf. []

Statistics on Guns in the Home & Safe Storage

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Living in a home where there are guns increases the risk of homicide by 40 to 170% and the risk of suicide by 90 to 460%.1

Guns kept in the home are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal unintentional shooting, criminal assault or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.2

Having a gun in the home is associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home, regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of guns in the home.3

Rather than conferring protection, guns in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.4

The relative risk of dying from an unintentional gunshot injury is 3.7 times higher for adults living in homes with guns, with handguns in the home posing a particular threat.5

States with higher rates of household firearm ownership have significantly higher homicide victimization rates.6

People who keep a gun in their home are almost twice as likely to die in a gun-related homicide and 16 times more likely to use a gun to commit suicide than people without a gun in their home.7

A study of firearm storage patterns in U.S. homes found that “[o]f the homes with children and firearms, 55% were reported to have one or more firearms in an unlocked place,” and 43% reported keeping guns without a trigger lock in an unlocked place.8

A recent study on adult firearm storage practices in U.S. homes found that over 1.69 million children and youth under age 18 are living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms.9

Keeping a firearm unloaded and locked, with the ammunition stored in a locked location separate from the firearm, significantly decreases the risk of suicide and unintentional firearm injury and death involving both long guns and handguns. These safe storage measures serve as a “protective effect” and assist in reducing youth suicide and unintentional injury in homes with children and teenagers where guns are stored.10

The presence of unlocked guns in the home increases the risk not only of accidental gun injuries but of intentional shootings as well. One study found that more than 75% of the guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend.11

  1. Garen J. Wintemute, Guns, Fear, the Constitution, and the Public’s Health, 358 New England J. Med. 1421-1424 (April 3, 2008), at http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/NEJMp0800859. []
  2. Arthur L. Kellerman et al., Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home, 45 J. Trauma 263, 263, 266 (1998). []
  3. Linda L. Dahlberg et al., Guns in the Home and Risk of a Violent Death in the Home: Findings from a National Study, 160 Am. J. Epidemiology 929, 929, 935 (2004). []
  4. Arthur L. Kellerman et al., Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home, 329 New Eng. J. Med. 1084 (1993). []
  5. Douglas J. Wiebe, Firearms in U.S. Homes as a Risk Factor for Unintentional Gunshot Fatality, 35 Accident Analysis & Prevention 711, 713-14 (2003) (finding the relative risk of dying from an unintentional gunshot injury to be 3.7 times higher for adults living in homes with guns). []
  6. Matthew Miller, David Hemenway, and Deborah Azrael, State-level Homicide Victimization Rates in the U.S. in Relation to Survey Measures of Household Firearm Ownership, 2001 -2003, 64 Soc. Sci. & Med. 656, 660 (2007). []
  7. Douglas Wiebe, Homicide and Suicide Risks Associated with Firearms in the Home: A National Case-control Study, 41 Annals of Emergency Medicine 771 (June 2003). []
  8. Mark A. Schuster et al., Firearm Storage Patterns in U.S. Homes with Children, 90 Am. J. Pub. Health 588, 590 (Apr. 2000). []
  9. Catherine A. Okoro et al., Prevalence of Household Firearms and Firearm-Storage Practices in the 50 States and the District of Columbia: Findings from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002, 116 Pediatrics e370, e371-e372 (Sept. 2005), at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/116/3/e370. []
  10. David C. Grossman et al., Gun Storage Practices and Risk of Youth Suicide and Unintentional Firearm Injuries, 293 JAMA 707, 711-13 (Feb. 2005). []
  11. David C. Grossman, Donald T. Reay & Stephanie A. Baker, Self-inflicted & Unintentional Firearm Injuries Among Children & Adolescents: The Source of the Firearm, 153 Archives Pediatric & Adolescent Med. 875, 875 (Aug. 1999), at http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/153/8/875. []

Statistics on Guns in the Workplace

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

In 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, approximately 81% of workplace homicides were committed with a firearm.1

While workplace homicides have decreased steadily over time, the rate of shootings committed by co-workers or former co-workers has remained steady, with an average of 45 homicides by shooting committed by a co-worker or former co-worker per year between 1992 and 2006.2

A 2005 study found that workplaces where guns were specifically permitted were five to seven times more likely to be the site of a worker homicide relative to those where all weapons were prohibited.3

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Dep’t of Labor, 2009 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, TABLE A-6. Fatal Occupational Injuries Resulting from Transportation Incidents and Homicides by Occupation, All United States, 2009, at http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0246.pdf (last visited Oct. 27, 2010) (reporting that 420 of the 521 homicides were homicides by shooting). []
  2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and Fatal Injuries Profiles, at http://www.bls.gov/data/home.htm#injuries (last visited June 16, 2008). []
  3. Dana Loomis, Stephen W. Marshall, and Myduc L. Ta, Employer Policies Toward Guns and the Risk of Homicide in the Workplace, 95 Am. J. Pub. Health 830, 831 (May 2005) (surveying 105 workplaces where an employee had been the victim of a homicide). []

Statistics on Guns in Schools

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

A U.S. Secret Service study of 37 school shootings in 26 states found that in nearly two-thirds of the incidents, the attacker got the gun from his or her own home or that of a relative.1

  1. United States Secret Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Safe School Initiative: An Interim Report on the Prevention of Targeted Violence in Schools 6 (Oct. 2000). []

Statistics on Guns on Campus

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

College student gun owners are more likely than those who do not own guns to engage in activities that put themselves and others at risk for severe or life-threatening injuries, including reckless behavior involving alcohol, driving while intoxicated, and suffering an alcohol-related injury.1

One study found that two-thirds of gun-owning college students engage in binge drinking, and are more likely than unarmed college students to drink “frequently and excessively” and then engage in risky activities such as driving under the influence of alcohol and vandalizing property.2

Approximately 9 out of 10 college students who were victims of violent crime were victimized off campus.3 Firearms were used in only 9% of all violent crimes against college students over the period 1995-2002.4

Fewer than 2% of students reported being threatened with a gun while at college.5

  1. Matthew Miller, David Hemenway & Henry Wechsler, Guns at College, 48 J. Am. C. Health 7, 9 (1999). []
  2. Matthew Miller, David Hemenway & Henry Wechsler, Guns and Gun Threats at College, 51 J. Am. C. Health 57, 63 (Sept. 2002). []
  3. Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, National Crime Victimization Survey – Violent Victimization of College Students, 1995-2002 1, 5 (Jan. 2005), at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/vvcs02.pdf. []
  4. Id. at 5. []
  5. Miller et al., supra note 2, at 63. []

Statistics on Gun Trafficking & Private Sales

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Interstate firearms trafficking flourishes, in part, because states regulate firearm sales differently and there is no federal limitation on the number of guns that an individual may purchase at any one time.1

More than half a million firearms are stolen each year in the United States and more than half of stolen firearms are handguns, many of which are subsequently sold illegally.2

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) issued a comprehensive report in 2000 detailing firearms trafficking investigations involving more than 84,000 diverted firearms, finding that federally licensed firearms dealers were associated with the largest number of trafficked guns – over 40,000 – and concluded that the dealers’ “access to large numbers of firearms makes them a particular threat to public safety when they fail to comply with the law.”3

According to ATF, one percent of federally licensed firearms dealers are responsible for selling almost 60 percent of the guns that are found at crime scenes and traced to dealers.4

Nearly a quarter of ATF gun trafficking investigations involved stolen firearms and were associated with over 11,000 trafficked firearms – including 10% percent of the investigations which involved guns stolen from residences.5

ATF’s limited compliance inspections between 2008 and 2010 found that over 62,000 firearms were missing from licensees’ inventories with no record of sale.6 The Bureau also identified over 16,000 firearms that had disappeared from gun manufacturers’ inventories without explanation between 2009 and the middle of 2011.7

A 1997 U.S. Department of Justice survey found that 8.4% of state prison inmates who used or possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were incarcerated obtained the gun from the illegal market.8

Random inspections by ATF have uncovered that a large percentage of dealers violate federal law, and that percentage is growing.9

An estimated 40% of the guns acquired in the U.S. annually come from unlicensed sellers who are not required by federal law to conduct background checks on gun purchasers.10

Nearly 80% of Mexico’s illegal firearms and most recovered crime guns in major Canadian cities are imported illegally from the U.S.11

For additional information on illegal gun trafficking and gun tracing, visit the Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ Trace Data Center. For additional information about private sales, including background information and state and local laws on the topic, see the Law Center’s Private Sales Policy Summary.

  1. Douglas S. Weil & Rebecca C. Knox, Effects of Limiting Handgun Purchases on Interstate Transfer of Firearms, JAMA 1759, 1759-60 (1996). []
  2. Philip J. Cook & James A. Leitzel, “Smart” Guns: A Technological Fix for Regulating the Secondary Market 7, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University, Working Paper Series SAN01-10 (July 2001). []
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Laws Against Firearms Traffickers ix, x (June 2000). []
  4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Commerce in Firearms in the United States 14 (Feb. 2000). []
  5. Id. at 11, 41. []
  6. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Missing Guns 1 (January 2011). []
  7. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Missing Guns: Lost and Dangerous 1 (September 2011). []
  8. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, U.S. Department of Justice, Firearm Use by Offenders: Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities 6 (Nov. 2001), at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/fuo.pdf. []
  9. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “‘Trivial Violations’? The Myth of Overzealous Federal Enforcement Actions Against Licensed Gun Dealers” 1 (Sept. 2006). []
  10. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice Research in Brief 6-7 (May 1997). []
  11. Wintemute, Garen J., Gun Shows Across a Multistate American Gun Market: Observational Evidence of the Effects of Regulatory Policies, 13 Inj. Prevention 150, 150 (2007), at “http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/13/3/150. See also Alicia A. Caldwell, ATF: Most Illegal Guns in Mexico Come from U.S., Associated Press, Aug. 11, 2008 (ATF states that nearly all illegal guns seized in Mexico – 90 to 95 percent – originally come from the U.S.). []

Statistics on Gun Shows

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

A recent study comparing gun shows in California (a state that regulates gun shows and private firearm transfers) with gun shows in states with little to no such regulation found that at gun shows in states with less regulation, straw purchases were more common, armed attendees selling guns were more common, and vendors were more likely to sell assault weapons and 50 caliber rifles.1

A study by ATF found that 25% to 50% of gun show vendors are unlicensed.2

ATF reviewed over 1,500 of its investigations and concluded that gun shows are a “major trafficking channel,” associated with approximately 26,000 firearms diverted from legal to illegal commerce. Gun shows rank second to corrupt dealers as a source for illegally trafficked firearms.3

From 2004 – 2006, ATF conducted 202 investigative operations at 195 guns shows, or roughly 3% of the gun shows held nationwide during this period. These operations resulted in 121 arrests and the seizure of 5,345 firearms.4

For additional information about gun shows, including background information and state and local laws on the topic, see the Law Center’s Gun Shows Policy Summary.

  1. Wintemute, Garen J., Gun Shows Across a Multistate American Gun Market: Observational Evidence of the Effects of Regulatory Policies, 13 Inj. Prevention 150, 154-155 (2007), at “http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/13/3/150. []
  2. U.S. Department of Justice & Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Gun Shows: Brady Checks and Crime Gun Traces 4 (Jan. 1999). []
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Commerce in Firearms in the United States xi, 1, 12 (Feb. 2000). []
  4. Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Investigative Operations at Gun Shows i, iv-v (June 2007). []

Statistics on Multiple Sales & Purchases of Firearms

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Handguns sold in multiple sales to the same individual purchaser are frequently used in crime.1

ATF crime gun trace data reveal that 22% of all handguns recovered in crime in 1999 had been transferred to a purchaser in a single sale involving multiple firearms (otherwise known as a “multiple sale”).2

Crime gun trace data from 2000 show that 20% of all retail handguns recovered in crime were purchased as part of a multiple sale.3

As a result of Virginia’s law restricting multiple sales (now-repealed), the odds of tracing a gun originally acquired in the Southeast to a Virginia gun dealer (as opposed to a dealer in a different southeastern state) dropped by 71% for guns recovered in New York, 72% for guns recovered in Massachusetts, and 66% for guns recovered in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts combined.4

Jurisdictions with weaker firearms laws attract gun traffickers who make multiple purchases and resell those guns in jurisdictions with stronger firearms laws.5

For additional information about multiple sales or purchases of firearms, including background information and state and local laws on the topic, see the Law Center’s Restrictions on Multiple Purchases or Sales of Firearms Policy Summary.

  1. See, e.g., Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative, Crime Gun Trace Reports (2000) National Report 50 (July 2002); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative, Crime Gun Trace Reports (1999) National Report 40 (Nov. 2000). []
  2. Id. []
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative, Crime Gun Trace Reports (2000) National Report 50 (July 2002). []
  4. Douglas S. Weil & Rebecca Knox, Evaluating the Impact of Virginia’s One-Gun-A-Month Law, The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence 1, 4-6 (Aug. 1995). []
  5. Douglas S. Weil & Rebecca C. Knox, Effects of Limiting Handgun Purchases on Interstate Transfer of Firearms, JAMA 1759, 1759-60 (1996). []