U.S. Department of Justice Statistics Report: Firearm Violence 1993-2011

The following special report was released May 7, 2013 by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Bureau of Justice Statistics

  • 28 pages
  • May 2013


In 2011, a total of 478,400 fatal and nonfatal violent crimes were committed with a firearm. Homicides made up about 2% of all firearm-related crimes. There were 11,101 firearm homicides in 2011, down by 39% from a high of 18,253 in 1993. The majority of the decline in firearm-related homicides occurred between 1993 and 1998. Since 1999, the number of firearm homicides increased from 10,828 to 12,791 in 2006 before declining to 11,101 in 2011.

Nonfatal firearm-related violent victimizations against persons age 12 or older declined 70%, from 1.5 million in 1993 to 456,500 in 2004. The number then fluctuated between about 400,000 to 600,000 through 2011. While the number of firearm crimes declined over time, the percentage of all violence that involved a firearm did not change substantively, fluctuating between 6% and 9% over the same period. In 1993, 9% of all violence was committed with a firearm, compared to 8% in 2011.

The primary source of information on firearm-related homicides was obtained from mortality data based on death certificates in the National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). These mortality data include causes of death reported by attending physicians, medical examiners, and coroners, and demographic information about decedents reported by funeral directors who obtain that information from family members and other informants. The NCHS collects, compiles, verifies, and prepares these data for release to the public.

The estimates of nonfatal violent victimization are based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which collects information on nonfatal crimes against persons age 12 or older reported and not reported to the police from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households. Homicide rates are presented per 100,000 persons and the nonfatal victimization rates are presented per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. Additional information on firearm violence in this report comes from the School-Associated Violent Deaths Surveillance Study (SAVD), the FBI’s Supplemental Homicide Reports (SHR), the Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities (SISCF), and the Survey of Inmates in Federal Correctional Facilities (SIFCF). Each source provides different information about victims and incident characteristics. Estimates are shown for different years based on data availability and measures of reliability.

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14 comments for “U.S. Department of Justice Statistics Report: Firearm Violence 1993-2011

  1. Ann L. Glovier
    May 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Statistics are surprisingly positive. perhaps the improved reporting accounts for the perception that crimes have increased.

  2. Cypher
    June 4, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Still doesn’t justify the need for assault weapons for civilians.

    • Don
      June 6, 2013 at 12:57 am

      Civilians haven’t had “assault rifles” since the mid 1980’s when Reagan made them illegal. An assault rifle, by definition, has an automatic mode of operation. No guns sold over the counter or at gun shows to civilians today has an automatic firing mode.

      An “assault weapon” is a term coined by politicians and the liberal media to create fear in Americans. There is no such thing as an assault weapon other then in the minds of the ignorant and uneducated.

      I have an old Ruger Mini 14 carbine rifle, used by ranchers to protect their livestock from predators, that shoots the same round as an M-16 and an AR-15. The M-16 is an assault rifle. The AR-15 (M-16 look-alike) shoots exactly the same round. The Mini 14 and the AR-15 are NOT assault rifles, nor are they assault weapons (since that is just a liberal media and politician fear-mongering phrase). An assault rifle enables the user to pull the trigger and the gun will keep firing until the magazine is empty. The Mini 14 and AR-15 can only shoot one round per trigger pull. If you hold the trigger, nothing more will happen.

      The biggest problem is we have an uneducated population who depends on the liberal media to educate them. The education of people is impossible because the liberal media is full of ignorant talking heads hell-bent on carrying out the kings orders.

  3. June 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Thank you, Don for taking a moment to make a very strong and professional rebuttal to the previous commenter’s statement. Ignorance is cured with discourse!

  4. Patrick
    June 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Just a correction to Dons statement. Auto fire weapons have been restricted since 1934.

    These weapons are available, but the process for obtaining one legally is long and very expensive.

  5. Philip
    June 13, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    What Patrick failed to mention was how easily those same “non-automatic” firearms can be converted to automatic. And that no matter the ease, they are not designed for any purposed other than killing people (ie, not for hunting animals). They are not effective for self defense (since they are less easily managed and handled than handguns). They are not good for hunting, because their barrel length is not designed for long-range accuracy. There is really no valid reason for a private citizen to have that kind of weapon. And by automatic, I mean any fire mode other than single shot per trigger depression. For $350 you can easily convert an AR-15 (uh, does “AR” stand for Assault Rifle? I think so) to fully automatic. Even large magazines will allow a “semi-automatic” rifle to shoot more than 2 rounds per second.

    • Phil
      September 26, 2014 at 6:35 am

      NO….AR does not stand for assault rifle. It stands for Armalite Rifle, which was the designer of the AR platform. It cannot be easily converted to a full auto. Secondly, you are misinformed as to their accuracy, in that I can shoot on quite easily for both home defense and for hunting. I can shoot mine with an accuracy of 6 in at 500 yds. Do you realize that is five football fields? Next, do you shoot regularly? I do and I can tell you that a hand gun can shoot nearly as many rounds as an AR can and with less accuracy. Finally, let me quote you something….”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Now let me allow the SCOTUS to offer their findings….”1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” Key words “such as” not to be confused the “for”.

  6. Philip
    June 13, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Apologies for the snarky “AR” comment – AR stands for “Armalite”

  7. Jamie
    June 13, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I’m not familiar with a single weapon that can be easily converted to fully automatic weapon. Care to back you “expert” opinion up with facts? Also Handguns are not “more easily handled” than a rifle. Try hitting the same target with a handgun as a rifle at ANY distance. The legitimate reason for individual firearm ownership is the same as it has always been. The defense from threat of tyranny by a corrupt government.

  8. Jamie
    June 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Oh and a longer barrel isn’t more accurate it just provides more velocity. Two of my deer rifles one a bolt action the other an AR-15 (yes the AR can be used as a deer rifle in the right caliber) have 16″ barrels and are plenty accurate for hunting purposes well out past ethical hunting ranges. Considering the last two deer I harvested were at 50 yards and 75 yards respectively I think my 16″ barreled AR is quite suitable for hunting applications.

  9. tony r
    November 16, 2013 at 1:35 am

    No valid reason? So, why do police depts issue ARs to their officers? If a company of good guys with body armor see the AR as a very good defensive weapon, why not home owner with no benefit of backup nor body armor?

  10. Value my freedom
    February 5, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I am a free man, living within the bounds of our societal rules and I, as an American citizen in good standing, am blessed by the coverage afforded to me by the United States Constitution that allows me to keep and bear arms. I do not have them to commit crimes, I have them to protect my family. I could not live with myself if a situation arose where I was unable to defend my family because I chose not to have a firearm available just for that purpose. My children know proper weapons handling techniques and how to shoot accurately, as does my wife. We are not; however, what the liber-tard media describe as “gun nuts.” Safety is always the priority in handling any weapon and should be treated and cared for as the tools they are for protecting my family and I. If someone chooses not to exercise their right to own firearms, that is their choice. No one has the right to tell me or my family we don’t have the right to defend ourselves. God bless America and her people.

  11. April 1, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Fair to say all sides of this hopelessly polarized argument are anti-crime and anti-massacre.

    Here’s an idea; Instead of beating our collective heads against each other to try to win arguments or score petty political points, why don’t Americans focus on what is really important: finding effective ways to reduce violent crime and keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of criminals, antisocial types, suicidal and disturbed individuals. Where it gets tricky for legislators is attempting to further reduce gun crime, especially gun deaths, suicides and non-fatal gun assaults, while scrupulously respecting all Americans’ civil rights.

    Personally I feel no major drop in gun fatalities can ever occur until the handgun is regulated out of existence in American society except for target shooting and self defense in the wilderness. Why? According to the US Department of Justice report on violent crime, issued in May of 2013 (just six months after the massacre of 20 first graders and six school staff), in any given year handguns account for 80 to 90 percent of all gun fatalities. I believe these easily concealable and highly lethal weapons also account for virtually all gun suicides and an equally large majority of non-fatal shootings.

    To be fair, violent crime statistics involving guns have dropped about two thirds since 1993. And I don’t know anyone who is opposed to using hand guns or long guns for target practice or self defense in the wilderness. But there is much more America and its legislators can do to make Americans safer in their homes, their automobiles, malls, theatres and at their place of employment. While such a downward trend in violent gun crime is good news, that is not a good reason for Americans to sit on their hands and accept the status quo.

    While the AR-15 and AK-47 seem to be the weapons of choice for the criminally homicidal like Adam Lanza and the particularly delusional gun kooks in America — therefore getting most of the coverage in the media — it is an irrefutable fact that revolvers and semi-auto pistols are used for about 11,000 murders, about 18,000 suicides and more than 70,000 non-fatal assaults each year. Handguns are also far less useful for home defense than long guns, especially shotguns. Pistols are designed for but one purpose: to efficiently kill or injure someone else.

    I believe I have clearly demonstrated that it is time for America to join the 20th century and make the handgun, that ugly reminder of the lawless wild west era, a thing of the past except for the uses I have delineated above.

    And to my liberal friends, I say: leave the hunters and target shooters alone. They’re only doing their version of sport and recreation. You don’t need to approve of hunting; just tolerate it, just as they tolerate your bleating and running around with you hair on fire about every social issue you feel strongly about. Through their hunting license fees, hunters and fishers contribute the funds needed for wildlife regulators to manage fish and game species levels at sustainable levels and combat poaching.

    • C.M
      April 30, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      I like what you are saying, I am a hunter, fisher, soon to be trapper. I am also for the right to own all guns and to be able to defend myself and others. One thing I liked about what you said: Handguns are also far less useful for home defense than long guns, especially shotguns. Pistols are designed for but one purpose: to efficiently kill or injure someone else.
      Pistols are backup weapons you would use if you found yourself in a close quarters combat situation and the primary gun you had was an assault rifle, rifle or some other medium-far ranged weapon, or is your primary weapon ran out of ammo, (Pulling out your sidearm is faster then re-loading). I do believe background checks so that they can make sure you do not have any psychological problems, or a criminal record. If you got a few speeding tickets then that shouldn’t really counted as a criminal record but reckless driving, drugs, domestic abuse, murder, or other bad crimes you should not be able to own even a sidearm.

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