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Page 255 6 Firearms and Violence An analysis of violence in the United States would be incomplete without a discussion of firearms, which are involved in about 60 percent of all homicides. The most widely debated methods of preventing gun violence involve legal restrictions on firearm owners or licensed dealers. While evaluations have found several regulations that have reduced gun homicides when they are enforced, regulations arouse controversy among law-abiding dealers and ownerssome of whom acquired guns precisely because they feared gun violence. Our review of available evidence revealed several promising preventive strategies, none requiring new laws, which are ripe for rigorous evaluation. We also concluded that like "drug-related violence," "gun violence" may be best understood in terms of illegal markets and reduced through tactics that police already apply in illegal drug markets. We begin by discussing overall patterns and trends in firearms ownership and use in violent crimes. Then, proceeding from best understood to least understood, we examine how firearms alter a series of conditional probabilities in violent events: the chance that an injury causes death, the chance that an encounter (e.g., robbery, assault) produces an injury, and the relationship of firearms availability to the frequencies of such encounters. We then discuss what little is known about the channels through which firearms reach violent crime scenes and conclude by examining
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Page 256 the empirical basis for alternative strategies for reducing the incidence and consequences of violent firearm use. Patterns and Trends in Firearm Ownership and Violent Use Firearms are widely owned and widely available in the United States. No precise count is available since no enumeration system exists, but the best estimates are that the national gun population was in the range of 60-100 million in 1968 (Newton and Zimring, 1969), 100-140 million in 1978 (Wright et al., 1983), 130-170 million in 1988 (Cook, 1991), and 200 million in 1990 (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, 1991). For at least three decades, the fraction of all households owning any type of gun has remained stable at about 50 percent; however, the fraction owning a handgun rose from 13 percent in 1959 to 24 percent in 1978, where it has remained, more or less, since then (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1989, cited in Cook, 1991). Surveys generally conclude that the fraction of households owning firearms is greatest in rural areas and small towns, higher for whites than for blacks, highest in the South, lowest in the Northeast, and higher for high-income households than for low-income households (Cook, 1991; Wright et al., 1983). Violent uses of guns impose both human and monetary costs. In 1989 gun attacks resulted in about 12,000 homicidesabout 60 percent of all homicides (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1989). In addition, Cook (1991) estimates that 5.7 nonfatal gunshot injuries occur for every homicidea projection on the order of 70,000 for 1989. For 1985, Rice and associates (1989) estimate the total cost of intentional and unintentional gun injuries at over $14 billion, including both the direct costs of hospital and other medical care and the indirect costs of long-term disability and premature death. The risk of death from homicide by a gun is not uniformly distributed throughout the population; rather, it is highly elevated for adolescents, particularly black males. In 1988 the gun homicide rate per 100,000 people was 8 for teenagers ages 15-19, but less than 6 for the population as a whole. Among teenagers ages 15-19, the 1989 rate was 83.4 for black males compared with 7.5 for white males (unpublished data from the National Vital Statistics system, 1992)a ratio of more than 11:1. The elevated risk for teenagers reflects both a concentration of homicides in ages 15-34 and a peak in gun use by killers of young
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Page 257 Figure 6-1 Age distribution for homicide victims at five-year intervals. SOURCE: Adapted from Federal Bureau of Investigation (1989:11). people. Figure 6-1, which displays 1989 age distributions for homicide victims in five-year intervals, shows that the largest fraction of nonfirearm homicide victims was in the 25-29 age range; the largest fraction of firearm homicide victims was slightly younger, in the 20-24 age range. The fraction of homicides committed with guns peaks even earlier, at 81 percent for victims ages 15 to 19, then declines gradually but monotonically for victims age 20 and older (Figure 6-2). Although the 1989 risk of gun homicide for black teenage males ages 15-19 was 11 times the risk for their white counterparts, black victims outnumbered white victims in that age range by
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Page 258 Figure 6-2 Fraction of homicides committed with firearm by age of victim. SOURCE: Adapted from Federal Bureau of Investigation (1989:11). only 1,163 to 547, because whites are so much more numerous in the population (unpublished data from the National Vital Statistics system, 1992). Despite the small numbers involved, the firearm homicide risk for young black males warrants special attention. Not only is the recent increase in this risk a significant social inequity, but also such a huge increase is unique to this particular intersection of sex, race, age, weapon type, intent, and time period. Trends between 1979 and 1988 in teenage deaths were reported by Fingerhut et al. (1991). During that period, no increases of similar proportions occurred in firearm homicides of black females
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Page 259 Figure 6-3 Death rates for selected demographic groups and manners of death: United States, 1979-1988. F/H = firearm homicide; N/H = nonfirearm homicide; F/S = firearm suicide; F/U = unintentional firearm death. SOURCE: Fingerhut et al. (1991:Table 1). or white males of the same age, or among older black males ages 25-29 (Figure 6-3).1 And between 1987 and 1988 nonfirearm homicides actually declined for black male teenagers, from 10.8 per 100,000 to 9.5, essentially the 1984 level. The rate for unintentional firearm death, a measure more closely related to firearm availability, rose only about 50 percent (from 2.3 to 3.4 per 100,000) among black male teenagers between 1984 and 1988. And every rate displayed in the figure declined during the immediately preceding period, 1979-1984. The most comparable trend during the period 1984-1988 is in the other form of intentional injury: a 100 percent increase (from 3.4 to 6.8 per 100,000) in the firearm suicide rate for black male teenagersa higher relative increase than for other race and sex categories in this age group or for older black males. In short, the increase during the period 1984-1988 in firearm homicides cannot be explained solely in terms of either demographics or firearm availability; rather, one must look at these factors in conjunction with other events that affected young black males during those specific years.
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Page 260 The risks of violent gun use are not evenly distributed across type of gun. Of all guns in the United States, approximately one-third are handguns and two-thirds are long gunsa heterogeneous category that includes, for example, both small-caliber and large-caliber rifles, shotguns, and semiautomatic and automatic rifles. Handguns are disproportionately likely to be used in homicides, by a factor of more than 3 to 1. In gun homicides for which the type of weapon was known, handguns accounted for nearly 80 percent in 1989, compared with 8 percent for rifles and 12 percent for shotguns (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1989). Despite substantial recent public attention to what are called assault weapons, we were unable to find national statistics on the availability, use, or lethality of this rather ill-defined category of firearm (Zimring, 1989; Kleck, 1991). Even for handguns, the weapon of choice in violent crimes in the United States, the risk of violent use is not evenly distributed. Based on estimates by Cook (1981), it appears that, of each cohort of new handguns sold, about one-third are involved in crime (i.e., displayed or fired) at least once during their usable lifetimes.2 New handguns, those acquired most recently, are especially likely to be involved in violent crimes (Zimring and Hawkins, 1987). But there is little information available about the kinds of places, encounters, handgun attributes, ownership patterns, and distribution channels that heighten the risk that a given handgun will be used in a violent manner. Research on this question is complicated by the lack of data systems to track unique identifiers of firearms and by their frequent movement, through burglary, unregulated sales, and simple carrying, from one situation to another. (On request from a law enforcement agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms attempts to trace the ownership paths of guns used in crime, but these do not provide a basis for comparing their ownership histories to those of other guns.) There are no accurate profiles for distinguishing ''dangerous" handguns or locations from "safe" ones. The Lethality of Firearm Injuries A focus on violent injuries produces one clear correlation. The case fatality ratethe fraction of injuries that lead to deathis much greater for guns than for knives, the next most lethal weapon. Zimring (1968) reports fatality rates of 12.2 percent for gun attacks and 2.4 percent for knife attacks, a lethality ratio of about 5 to 1. Others report somewhat smaller lethality ratios, but no
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Page 261 estimate is less than 2 to 1 (Curtis, 1974, reported in Wright et al., 1983; Vinson, 1974). From scientific and policy perspectives, the difficulty lies in determining how much of the difference in lethality among weapons is due to instrumental effects (i.e., properties of the weapon or ammunition) and how much to the perpetrator's intent. For more than 30 years, people have argued that the perpetrators most intent on killing not only select firearms more frequently but also aim more carefully, fire more bullets, and take other steps that further increase the lethal effects (Wolfgang, 1958). In this view, intent contributes most of the lethality and, if guns became unavailable, such intent killers would succeed in killing with knives, blunt instruments, fists, or feet. This argument is plausible for some shootings, but there is no basis for estimating how often it applies. Firearms are rarely used by serial killers, for example, who are considered among the most intent of all killers. Often guns are used to achieve some objective other than killing, such as to threaten. The use of guns to threaten that has been the best measured is robbery, in which the purpose is to get persons, usually strangers, to hand over property. Guns are also used to threaten or to inflict harm against family members or casual acquaintances in many different situationsdisputes, revenge for some perceived slight or chronic harassment, and the like. Another use of threat is self-defense, in which, for example, a surprised homeowner may brandish or fire a gun primarily to frighten a burglar away. The choice of a firearm to communicate threats has two potentially offsetting effects on lethality. If use of a gun instead enables the initiator to achieve his or her goals without firing, physical harm is prevented (Kleck, 1991). But having a gun may encourage some people to initiate robberies or altercations against others who would otherwise appear too invulnerable to challenge; occasionally the gun will be discharged in those encounters, causing physical harm. Guns may also be fired in circumstances that involve no strategy. Such incidents include gratuitous murders at the successful conclusion of a robberyperhaps as a manifestation of hate or of what has been termed recreational violence. Also, guns may be fired in conflicts between intimates or more casual acquaintances involving intense anger, fear, or both. Between 1976 and 1987, more than twice as many women were shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner as were killed by strangers using any means. In violent domestic disputes, the choice of a weapon may
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Page 262 well be the nearest available object that can project force, and it seems likely that instrumentality rather than intent contributes most of the firearm's lethal effect. Police and court records make clear that neither these scenarios nor countless others should be ignored in debates over firearms policy. The difficulty, as any trial judge knows, is that establishing the motive for an instance of gun use is a formidable, time-consuming, judgmental task, often with an uncertain outcome. Available information is therefore indirect and imprecise. In an analysis of gun assaults in Chicago (Zimring, 1968), the victim received a single wound in over 80 percent of both fatal and nonfatal gun assaults. Since most guns have the capability to inflict multiple wounds, this suggests that at least some assaulters with guns lacked sufficient intent to exhaust all options for killing the persons they attacked.3 An analysis of survey data for victims of 12,000 robberies (Cook, 1980) is consistent with Kleck's conclusion that guns are sometimes used to threaten victims who would otherwise be relatively invulnerable: 55 percent of commercial robberies but only 13 percent of other robberies involve guns; the few gun robberies of persons tend to target relatively invulnerable groups and young adult males; and nongun street robberies are most likely to target women, children, and elderly victims. Similarly, Sampson and Lauritsen (Volume 3) report that, between 1973 and 1982, approximately 41 percent of male victims of violent crimes other than homicide, but only 29 percent of female victims, were attacked by persons with weaponsa pattern consistent with the use of weapons to overcome victim invulnerability rather than necessarily to kill. A survey of 1,874 incarcerated convicted felons interviewed during 1982 provides a more precise but perhaps unrepresentative distribution of the motivations of criminal gun users (Wright and Rossi, 1985). Of the 184 who fired a gun while committing the offense for which they were incarcerated, only 36 percent reported doing so "to kill the victim." More commonly reported motivations were "to protect myself" (48%) and "to scare the victim" (45%). Incarcerated offenders are not representative of all offenders and may be reluctant to report an intent to kill. Nevertheless, the data suggest strongly that many criminals who fire guns do so for reasons other than a single-minded attempt to kill. In fact, as the authors conclude, "most of the men [76%] who actually fired guns in criminal situations claimed to have had no prior intention of so doing" (Wright and Rossi, 1985:15; emphasis in original).
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Page 263 These findings indicate that, even in violent felonies, firearms are sometimes fired without a premeditated intent to kill. Consequently, a problem for future research is to measure what fraction of the difference in lethality between firearms and other weapons is due to instrumentality rather than intent. Since this fraction of lethality would be reduced if guns became less available, the research findings should be integral to debates over firearms policy. Firearms, Encounters, and Injury Rates To this point, our discussion has treated the gun victim as a passive target. Usually, of course, violent gun use occurs during an encounter between two or more people and depends on the nature of their interaction. As we indicate in Chapter 3, far too little is known about these interactions generally, in part because records of representative samples of assaults are difficult to construct, compile, and analyze. However, the choice of weapon for attacks and for self-defense is important in determining the probability and severity of injury when a gun is involved. Weapon Choice By Perpetrators Most of the evidence about perpetrators' weapon choice and lethality comes from studies of robberies and assaults. Studies of robbery reviewed by Cook (1991) indicate that, compared with other robbers, those who carry a gun are more likely to complete their robberies without experiencing victim resistance and without injuring the victims. However, because gun injuries are so much more likely to be lethal, the fatality rate for gun robberies, 4 per 1,000, is about triple the rate in knife robberies and 10 times the rate in robberies with other weapons (Cook, 1980). Zimring and Zuehl (1986) report a similar differential for nonresidential robberies known to the police. But because nonlethal residential robberies are more likely to be reported if a gun was used, including residential robberies in the analysis attenuates the lethality differential. Kleck and McElrath (1989) report a somewhat different pattern for assaults. The presence of a lethal weapon decreases the chance of actual physical attack. If an attack occurs, injury is less likely with a gun than with a knife. When an injury occurs, the fatality rate is higher in gun incidents than in knife incidents. The latter effect approximately offsets the first two, so that fatalities are about equally likely in gun assaults and knife assaults.
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Page 264 The Bureau of Justice Statistics (1986:Table 12) reported, by weapon type, the distribution of injury outcomes for violent victimizations of all types, based on National Crime Survey data for the period 1973-1982. Escalation from threat to attack, and especially to an attack causing injury, was far less probable when the offender was armed with a gun (probability = .14) than when he or she was unarmed (.30), armed with a knife (.25), or armed with any other weapon (.45). Given that they were injured, just over half of both gun victims and knife victims required medical attention, but gun victims were somewhat more likely to be hospitalized (.83) than were knife victims (.74) if they required medical help. Nevertheless, because of the low probabilities of attack and injury when the offender displayed a gun, the overall probability of being hospitalized following victimization by a gun-wielding offender was only .06the same as when the offender was unarmed, and less than when the offender was armed with a knife (.10) or with another weapon (.16).4 The data do not of course explain the low probabilities of attack and injury in events in which guns are involved. The attacker's display of the gun may intimidate the victims into submission rather than resistance; the attacker may fire the gun but miss (an event that has no analog in statistics on attacks by unarmed offenders); or the intended victims of gun wielders may themselves be more likely to be carrying guns, which they display or use in self-defense. Firearm Use in Self-Defense The use of guns for self-defense is one of the most controversial topics in firearms policy, and it promises to become more so if residents of high-crime areas grow more skeptical that police can or will effectively protect them and their property. In a 1979 survey, 20 percent of all gun owners and 40 percent of all handgun owners cited self-defense at home as the most important reason for their gun ownership; for handgun owners, self-defense was the most commonly cited reason (Decision-Making Information, Inc., 1979, cited in Wright et al., 1983:96). But self-described "self-defense" is ambiguous; it may refer, for example, to homeowners with a generalized fear of burglary, to single women who have received specific threats of rape, to belligerent regular patrons of "fighting bars" who anticipate confrontations, to gang members preparing for neighborhood intrusions by violent rival gangs, to criminals fearing retaliation for their previous crimes, and even to
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Page 265 criminals in the course of their crimesrecall that in Wright and Rossi's sample of incarcerated felons, 48 percent of those who fired guns cited self-defense as a motive. Police report anecdotally hearing "It was him or me" as an increasingly common excuse offered by alleged youthful killers with guns. Counts of Gun Use for Self-Defense Because self-defense is such an ambiguous term, it is not surprising that there is great dispute over how often firearms are actually used for self-defense. Using National Crime Survey data, Cook (1991) estimates incidents of self-defense firearm use at 78,000 per year, just below the number of people killed and wounded by firearms. Drawing on a number of surveys that ask about self-defense uses of guns without tying them to specific incidents, Kleck puts the annual number of self-defense uses about 10 times higherbetween 700,000 (G. Kleck, personal communication to Jeffrey A. Roth, National Research Council, 1990; Kleck, 1991) and 1 million (Kleck, 1988) per year, about equal to the number of violent crimes involving guns. Part of the discrepancy is no doubt accounted for by methodology. The National Crime Survey excludes commercial robberies, and it undercounts attempted and completed rapes and sexual assaults, particularly by family members; self-defense gun uses in those incidents would be missed as well. The surveys reviewed by Kleck (1988, 1991) have smaller sample sizes and longer reference periods, and they leave definitions of self-defense and use to respondents. Besides the ambiguity in defining self-defense, the counts may be inflated by respondents' inadvertent telescoping of incidents of self-defense into the reference period from previous periods. Also, some reported instances of self-protection are not comparable to specific criminal victimizations: respondents in some surveys could well have been concerned about animal rather than human attackers; others may have simply brought the gun nearby in anticipation of an encounter that never occurred.5 To correct for these and various other methodological artifacts, Kleck uses a number of adjustment factors, some of which rely on untested assumptions. He presents no sensitivity analyses of alternative adjustment procedures, and some of them are incompletely documented. Our calculations indicate that making alternative plausible assumptions would substantially decrease Kleck's estimates of annual self-defense uses.6 Because of the likely undercounts in the National Crime Survey
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Page 278 special restrictions on these weapons, has complicated the problem of drafting legislation. There is controversy over how much more lethal assault weapons are than other rifles and pistols (Kleck, 1991). But this controversy has been carried out entirely in terms of laboratory observations of the firepower of particular weapons. Resolution of that controversy in laboratory settings would provide little useful information about actual use of such weapons in violent crimes. Given the imprecision of the term assault weapon, it should not be surprising that there are no generally accepted estimates of the number of such weapons in the United States, of ownership patterns, of their lethality compared with other weapons, or of their uses in crimes (Zimring, 1991). Therefore, legislative efforts to restrict their availability are proceeding with very little basis in knowledge. Even if workable restrictions on assault weapons can be specified and implemented, past experience suggests that continuing enforcement efforts would be required to avoid circumvention through illegal markets. Therefore, the needs for evaluation cited in connection with Strategy 2 apply here as well. Strategy 4: Reduce the Availability of Firearms Perhaps the most ambitious effort to reduce the number of firearms in a community was the 1977 District of Columbia Firearms Control Act, which prohibited handgun ownership by virtually everyone except police officers, security guards, and previous gun owners. Three evaluations of this intervention are available: U.S. Conference of Mayors (1980), Jones (1981), and Loftin et al. (1991). As discussed by Cook (1991), the first two evaluations indicate that, during periods of vigorous enforcement, the District of Columbia law did reduce the rates of gun robbery, assault, and homicide during the three years following implementation. The effect was especially strong for homicides arising from disputes among family members and acquaintances. The Loftin et al. (1991) evaluation found decreases of about one-fourth in D.C. gun homicides and suicides immediately after passage of the law. The effect persisted until 1988, when gun homicides associated with crack markets increased, and it was not mirrored by trends in D.C. nongun homicides or suicides, or in gun homicides or suicides in nearby suburban areas that were not subject to the law. While none of these findings should be considered conclusive or universally applicable, their convergencedespite different approachessuggests
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Page 279 that local restrictive licensing laws, when enforced, may reduce firearm homicides and warrant evaluations in other communities. Research and Evaluation Needs Violence involving firearms exacts a large toll in terms of deaths, injuries, and monetary costs. The risk of firearm violence is high and rising, especially among young black males. Research is needed to determine answers to a number of questions about the multiple complex relationships between firearms and violence. Ignorance is especially profound concerning so-called assault weapons, a poorly defined category. One or more surveys are needed to develop accurate estimates of ownership by gun type, of motives and sources for obtaining guns, and especially of gun acquisition patterns among juveniles and criminals. Case control, ethnographic survey, and other studies are needed of robberies and assaults involving guns to discover the risk factors associated with actual shootings and the role of guns in self-defense. Existing data are inadequate for measuring the annual incidence of self-defense gun use. The National Crime Survey is subject to event threshold and recall problems, and other estimates are subject to definitional ambiguities and other methodological problems that cannot be solved without resorting to dubious adjustment factors. For informing individuals' choices about gun ownership, however, the more important questions are how often and under what circumstances intended victims deploy their guns in self-defense and how the deployment affects the outcome of the event. These questions bear further analysis not only through victimization surveys but also through analyses of event records. Analyses of natural variation have established that increased firearm availability is associated with increased firearm use in violent crime. But the methods used to date have been insufficient to answer a more basic question: Do changes in gun availability cause changes in violence levels overall? To answer this question, evaluations are needed of the effects of gun supply reduction initiatives on violence levels in particular geographic areas. Educational, technological, and legal strategies can be devised with the objectives of changing how handguns are used and stored, changing their allocation from higher-risk to lower-risk segments of the population, reducing their lethality, or reducing their numbers. For any of these policies to reduce homicides, they must
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Page 280 reduce violent uses of at least some types of guns to an extent that is not offset by substitution of other more lethal weapons. It is not clear in advance whether this condition would be met for any policy focused on handguns. While intentional firearm injuries are two to five times as lethal as injuries from knives, the next most lethal weapon, it is not known how much of this difference in lethality is due to weapon characteristics and how much to more lethal intentions by those who attack with guns. We also do not know the extent to which long guns or assault weapons would be substituted if handguns became less available, or indeed whether those weapons are more lethal than handguns when used in violent crimes. Without a priori knowledge, an assessment must depend on evaluations of experience, which are conditionally encouraging. Examples exist of reductions in violent gun uses caused by legal restrictions on carrying guns, by enhanced sentences for felony gun use, and by restrictive licensing of firearms in particular jurisdictions. However, the success of legal strategies depends critically on the nature and intensity of enforcement efforts, since illegal or unregulated gun transfers supply most of the guns used in crimes. Enforcement efforts directed against illegal gun markets combine elements of the first three strategies shown in Table 6-1. Also, unlike interventions involving licensed dealers and gun owners, most of whom are law abiding, disruption of illegal markets focuses on persons who are violating laws. Interventions against illegal drug markets should be more effective if they are informed by more specific research on the nature of those marketstheir size, their distribution channels, and their retail-level marketing techniques. As a starting point, however, efforts to disrupt local illegal gun markets might reasonably borrow tactics that are currently being used against illegal drug markets. These could include buy-bust operations,9 high-priority investigation and prosecution of alleged unregulated gun dealers, the development of minors arrested in possession of guns as informants against gun sources, phony fencing operations for stolen guns, high-priority investigations and prosecutions of burglaries and robberies in which guns are stolen, and high mandatory minimum sentences for those who steal or illegally sell guns. In Chapter 4 we suggest that the success of street-level disruption of drug markets may depend on the extent of local community support. Community support was also cited as a necessary ingredient of firearm policy development at the December 1990
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Page 281 Forum on Youth Violence in Minority Communities (Centers for Disease Control, 1991). This suggests that community-oriented or neighborhood-oriented police work involving close coordination with community-based organizations may be useful in reducing residents' motivations to acquire guns for self-defense, in encouraging community members to notify police anonymously about illegal gun transactions and persons illegally carrying guns, and in supporting market disruption tactics when necessary. In view of the lack of available evidence, a high priority should be placed on evaluations of the violence-reduction effectson gun and nongun violence and on illegal and unregulated gun transfersof interventions to reduce illegal sales of firearms. Specifically, high priority should be placed on evaluating the effects of three intervention strategies: • disrupting illegal gun markets using the centralized and street-level tactics currently in use for disrupting illegal drug markets; • enforcing existing bans on juvenile possession of handguns; and • community-oriented or neighborhood-oriented police work involving close coordination with residents and community-based organizations. At this writing, the Department of Justice is expanding its pilot testing of ''Operation Weed and Seed"a program under which these and other initiatives involving police-community cooperation could be systematically evaluated. Rigorous evaluations should also be made of the effects of strategies other than law enforcement interventions: public education interventions to change how guns are stored and used and technological interventions to reduce the lethality of firearms. To the extent that consideration is given to reducing the availability of assault weapons through new statutes, there is a need to reach consensus on a definition of that term, and then to ascertain their level of violent use, their lethality in actual use, and the effects of alternative enforcement strategies in reducing the violence associated with them. Notes 1 For legibility, trends in the 1984-1988 firearm homicide rate for black males are not displayed in Figure 6-3 for all available age groups. The rate for ages 15-19 increased from 30 to 68 per 100,000, a 126 percent increase. The corresponding increases were from 2.1 to 4.5 (114%) for
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Page 282 ages 10-14; from 63 to 104 (65%) for ages 20-24; from 70 to 90 (29%) for ages 25-29; and from 62 to 69 (11%) for ages 30-34 (Fingerhut et al., 1991). 2 Cook has estimated that for each new cohort of 100 guns, 33 uses in crime are reported. But because the frequency of repeat uses is unknown, the fraction that is ever used in this way is unknown. 3 Wright et al. (1983) point out that in some of the 80 percent, the shooter may have shot a second time but missed, and in others the killer may have failed to shoot a second time because the victim appeared to be dead already. It seems likely that both explanations apply to some incidents but that even together they are insufficient to account for all one-shot incidents. 4 Because National Crime Survey data include only nonfatal victimizations, the publication does not report conditional probabilities of being hospitalized or killed. Because deaths are so rare, however, those probabilities would not be substantially altered. 5 Respondents to one of the surveys of the uses of self-defense (Decision-Making Information, Inc., 1979) stated that only 31 percent of the incidents involving gun use for self-defense were "important enough to report to the police." 6 As one example, in a survey by Decision-Making Information (1979, cited in Wright et al., 1983:96), 15 percent of respondents reported "ever" using a gun for self-protection. To convert this lifetime prevalence to an annual prevalence, Kleck multiplies it by the ratio 1.4/8.6, the ratio of annual to lifetime prevalence rates for self-defense uses obtained in another survey and obtains an estimate of 897,000 annual self-defense uses. Yet elsewhere in the same publication, he reports that the mean duration of gun ownership in a representative sample of gun owners is 23.4 years. If one accepted the 1.4 percent rate as accurate but assumed that self-defense uses were distributed uniformly over the life of each gun, the implied adjustment ratio would be 1.4/23.4, which would reduce Kleck's annualized estimate to 329,000. As another example, Kleck (1988:5 and Table 2) adjusts justifiable civilian homicides with guns for assumed underreporting in the Uniform Crime Reports Supplementary Homicide Report. The adjustment involves 57 "other civilian legal defensive homicides" (OCLDHs) in Detroit and leads to a national estimate of 2,819 total firearm OCLDHs for 1980. Yet the estimation method for the Detroit OCLDHs is not explained, their cited source does not appear in the reference list, and no more than one OCLDH was estimated for any of the other five large jurisdictions included in Kleck's Table 2. Omitting the Detroit OCLDHs from the adjustment would reduce the national estimate from 2,819 to 1,711. 7 Because some incidents of self-defense with a firearm in events outside the home entail illegal firearms carrying, the rates for assaults and robberies may be underreported to interviewers. However, given the difficulty of gun deployment during a surprise robbery or assault, it seems
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Page 283 unlikely that the rates for assaults and robberies are as high as those for residential burglaries, in which self-defense with a gun is generally legal. 8 Based on a multivariate analysis, Cook (1979) finds that a 10 percent reduction in the prevalence of gun ownership in a city is associated with about a 5 percent reduction in the gun robbery rate and a 4 percent reduction in the robbery murder rate. Killias (1990, cited in Cook, 1991) reports a correlation of .72 between the gun fraction in homicide and the prevalence of gun ownership for 11 countries. 9 In a buy-bust operation, a dealer is arrested following one or more illegal sales to undercover officers, which are usually recorded on videotape for use as evidence. References Beha, J.A., III 1977 "And nobody can get you out": The impact of a mandatory prison sentence for the illegal carrying of a firearm on the use of firearms and the administration of criminal justice in Boston. Boston University Law Review 57:96-146, 289-233. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms 1988 (Your Guide to) Federal Firearms Regulation, 1988-89. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms publication No. 5300.4. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1989 State Laws and Published OrdinancesFirearms. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1991 How many guns? ATF News (Press release). May 22. Bureau of Justice Statistics 1986 The Use of Weapons in Committing Crimes. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1989 Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1987. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Centers for Disease Control 1991 Forum on Youth Violence in Minority Communities: Setting the Agenda for Prevention, December 10-12, 1990. Summary of the proceedings. Public Health Reports 106(3):225-277. Cook, P.J. 1979 The effect of gun availability on robbery and robbery murder: A cross section study of fifty cities. Policy Studies Review Annual 3. 1980 Reducing injury and death rates in robbery. Policy Analysis 6(1):21-45. 1981 Guns and crime: The perils of long division. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 1:120-125. 1985 Report on a City-Specific Gun Prevalence Index. Mimeographed. Durham, N.C.: Duke University, Institute of Policy Sciences. 1991 The technology of personal violence. Pp. 1-72 in M. Tonry, ed.,
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Page 284 Crime and Justice: A Review of Research. Vol. 14. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Curtis, L.A. 1974 Criminal Violence: National Patterns and Behavior. Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath. Decision-Making Information, Inc. 1979 Attitudes of the American Electorate Toward Gun Control. Santa Ana, Calif.: Decision-Making Information, Inc. Downs, G.W. 1991 Arms race and war. Pp. 73-109 in P.E. Tetlock, J.L. Husbands, R. Jervis, P.C. Stern, and C. Tilly, eds. Behavior, Society and Nuclear War. New York: Oxford University Press. Federal Bureau of Investigation 1989 Crime in the United States, 1988: Uniform Crime Reports. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Fingerhut, L.A., J.C. Kleinman, E. Godfrey, and H. Rosenberg 1991 Firearm mortality among children, youth, and young adults 1-34 years of age, trends and current status: United States, 1979-88. Monthly Vital Statistics Report 39(11, Supplement). Hyattsville, Md.: National Center for Health Statistics. General Accounting Office 1991 BATF: Management Improvements Needed to Handle Increasing Responsibilities. Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives. GAO publication No. GGD-91-67. Washington, D.C.: U.S. General Accounting Office. Green, G.S. 1987 Citizen gun ownership and criminal deterrence: Theory, research, and policy. Criminology 25:63-82. Isikoff, Michael 1991 Gun dealers' "great scam": U.S. licenses grow popular with criminals. Washington Post May 8, pp. A1,A8. Jones, E.D., III 1981 The District of Columbia's Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975: The toughest handgun control law in the United Statesor is it? Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 455:138-149. Kellermann, A.L., and D.T. Reay 1988 Protection or peril? An analysis of firearm related deaths in the home. New England Journal of Medicine 319:1256-1262. Kellermann, A.L., R.K. Lee, J.A. Mercy, and J. Banton 1991 The epidemiologic basis for the prevention of firearm injuries. Annual Review of Public Health 12:17-40. Killias, Martin 1990 Gun ownership and violent crime: The Swiss experience in international perspective. Security Journal 1(3):169-174.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: