Crime: Weapons

Number and type of weapon used in the crime of murder
Number and type of weapon used in the crime of murder  

Related "Issue of the Day" Entries

Repeal of Tiahrt Amendment Called for by Coalition
Published Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Much debate is going on in the gun and policing worlds regarding the need to repeal the 2004 Tiahrt Amendment, which was one of the agenda items President Obama discussed in his Senate and Presidential campaigns. The restriction placed on police from the Tiahrt Amendment prevents the federal government from requiring gun dealers to conduct inventory inspections to see if guns they possess are lost or stolen. Also, the President’s budget retains the rule regarding the destruction of federal background checks, which are required for gun buyers within 24 hours. Major proponents for the repeal include the National Public Safety Coalition, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City who believes that these restrictions limit law enforcement of gun sales and crime.

The use of firearms to commit murder actually rose from 9385 murders in 2004 to 10086 in 2007. Separated by type of gun, murders by handguns has been reduced and replaced by other types of guns such as assault rifles. After a short decline, law enforcement deaths have risen from the use of both handguns and assault rifles. Nonfatal firearms incidents are also on the rise again after a steady decline. Crimes committed with firearms besides murder remained at a steady level since the creation of the Brady Laws; this includes crimes committed while under the age of 18—the age at which many states allow at least rifle purchase.

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Gun Crime in Schools a Challange for Secretary of Education
Published Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

During the lead up to the primary in 2007, President Obama had challenged the government, the gun lobby and the public to do more to stop gun violence. In Chicago, where he gave the fiery speech, 32 Chicago school children had been killed in the previous year by firearms. As of today, 33 Chicago public school children have been cut down this year so far. The President had then called for better enforcement of existing gun laws, tighter background checks on gun buyers and a permanent assault-weapons (e.g., AK-47s) ban, which expired 5 years ago. Coincidentally, the new Secretary of Education was the former head of Chicago Public Schools, of which he stated that gun violence was his biggest challenge. These remarks by Secretary Arne Duncan come after the administration’s shift from methods like metal detectors to counseling and community building in order to combat school violence.

By 2007, there were over 10,000 people killed in the US by handguns, this is actually down from 10,225 in 2006. Violent crime committed with a firearm has reduced and remained relatively flat over the last decade.  During the 2006-2007 school year, the number of those killed in school amounted to 32. By the 2007-2008 school year, the number reduced below 20 for the first time since 2002 to 16 deaths. Yet, students who reportedly carried a handgun on school campus reduced steadily from 11.8 to 6.1% from 1993 to 2003. Therefore, there were fewer guns on campuses but more deaths.

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Murder-Suicide with Unlicensed Handgun
Published Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

California, who has witnessed four similar scenarios in the last year, has seen its fifth murder-suicide of a family this week. Apparently, both mother and father had been fired—not laid off—from their jobs at a local hospital. Despondent, the father shot their five children and their mother before killing himself. At the time, the father did not have a license for the handgun he used on the family. He had applied for and gotten a license, which expired in 2007, as part of his old job as hospital security. According to the FBI, this type of crime, Murder-Suicide, is not documented due to the difficulty in identifying the suicide as suicide and not murder.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, of the homicides in 2007 for which the type of weapon was specified, 72.9% of the offenses involved the use of firearms. Handguns comprised 87.8% of the firearms specified. Plus, 22.2% of victims were killed by family members. The rate at which handguns are used in the crime of murder has remained fairly flat; however, the rate for robbery and physical assault with a handgun has recently risen in 2005 between 12,000 and 16,000 incidents respectively.

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Reduction of Guns Use in Crimes
Published Monday, December 8th, 2008

A study compiled by the ATF and underwritten by a group of more than 300 U.S. mayors stated that 10 states were supplying 57% of all recovered guns used in crimes committed in 2007.  West Virginia is the top exporter per capita of illegal guns, with 41 traced guns per 100,000 state residents, followed by Mississippi, at 39 guns per 100,000, and South Carolina, at 31.  Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, and North Carolina round out the top 10 exporting states, per capita.  However, the data does suggest that the legal route is sound in that a majority of incidents criminals find ways to circumvent the laws though no background checks, gun shows, or “straw purchasers.”  ATF is allowed under federal law to inspect gun dealers once a year, but the agency claims that inspections are done at an actual rate of about one inspection per gun dealer every 17 years.

As bad as this may be, the use of guns of any type during an incident of murder has gone down for the first time in several years.  This count is of the number of crimes committed with the aid of a firearm and not the actual count of guns logged into evidence; many guns are never recovered and some are not traceable due to bad record keeping.  The most significant change in that data is the dramatic reduction in handguns from 7836 to 7361 between 2006-2007.

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