Firearms and Crime - Victimization

violent table weapons html

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports collect data only on crimes reported to law enforcement agencies. To give a better picture of actual crime occurrence in the United States—including unreported crime—the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) conducts the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). It has been underway since 1973. The statistics appear in the annual report Criminal Victimization in the United States. The NCVS crime rate is sometimes spoken of as the "actual" or as the "estimated" crime rate.

In the 2003 survey, the DOJ interviewed about 149,040 persons in 83,660 households, speaking to all members of

TABLE 5.8

Robbery, by type of weapon used, 2002
Region Total all weapons1 Firearms Armed knives or cutting instruments Other weapons Strongarm
1Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
SOURCE: Table 2.22. Robbery, Types of Weapons Used, in Crime in the United States, 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_02/html/web/offreported/02-nrobbery05.html#t222 (accessed October 8, 2004)
Total 100 42.1 8.7 9.3 39.9
Northeast 100 34 10.8 8.3 46.9
Midwest 100 43.8 6.5 9.7 40
South 100 47.8 7.8 9.7 34.7
West 100 36.3 10.3 9.1 44.3

TABLE 5.9

Aggravated assault, by type of weapon used, 1998–2002
Region Total all weapons Firearms Knives or cutting instruments Other weapons (clubs, blunt objects, etc.) Personal weapons
Note: Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
SOURCE: Table 2.24. Aggravated Assault, Types of Weapons Used, 1998–2002, in Crime in the United States, 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_02/html/web/offreported/02-naggravateda06.html#f224 (accessed October 8, 2004)
Total 100 19 17.8 35.4 27.7
Northeast 100 14.1 18.4 34.4 33.1
Midwest 100 18 17.2 34.7 30.1
South 100 21 19.5 37.6 21.9
West 100 18 15.2 32.6 34.3

TABLE 5.10

Justifiable homicide by private citizens1, by weapon, 1998–2002
Years Total Total Firearms Handguns Rifles Shotguns Firearms type not Stated Knives or cutting instruments Other dangerous weapons Personal weapons
1The killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.
SOURCE: Table 2.17. Justifiable Homicide, Types of Weapons Used, 1998–2002, in Crime in the United States, 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_02/html/web/offreported/02-nmurder03.html#t216 (accessed October 8, 2004)
1998 196 170 150 6 14 0 17 5 4
1999 192 158 137 5 10 6 18 9 7
2000 164 138 123 4 7 4 15 8 3
2001 222 183 143 10 13 17 26 6 7
2002 225 184 154 11 13 6 26 9 6

the household aged twelve or older. The sample of households is carefully chosen to be representative of the nation. The NCVS is divided into violent and property crime categories. Violent crime includes rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault (no weapon is involved). When publishing its data, the NCVS includes the murder rate, which is taken from the FBI's reports (for obvious reasons the NCVS cannot interview murder victims).

Number of Victimizations

Table 5.11 shows rates of violent crime and personal theft by demographic characteristics of the victim. In 2003 the NCVS reported some 24.2 million violent and property crimes. Of these, 5.4 million were violent victimizations. African-Americans were far more likely than whites (21.5 per one thousand) to be victims of violent crime, with 29.1 victimizations per one thousand African-Americans aged twelve or older. Those identified as mixed race were even more likely to be the victim of a crime, with 67.7 victimizations per one thousand citizens. The category of "other race" had the lowest rate, at 16 per one thousand. Those aged twelve to twenty-four were far more likely to be victimized than people aged twenty-five and over. In 2003 the data show that there is a gradual decrease in crime rates for the older age categories.

The rates of violent crime and personal theft are further broken down into different demographic categories in Table 5.12. The table clearly shows that individuals in households with an annual income of less than $7,500 are much more likely to be victims of robbery and assault than those living in households with a higher annual income. Individuals residing in households that earned more than $75,000 annually were much less likely to be victims of a violent crime. Another fact that emerges from this information is that urban residents are victimized at a higher rate than those that live in rural or suburban areas.

Looking at the long-term trends, the BJS reported that violent crime rates increased from the early 1970s to the early 1980s, then fell until the mid-1980s. For several years in the late 1980s, violent crime rates were stable, but they then increased in the early 1990s and fell between 1994 and 2003.

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