National Crime Victimization Survey

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The National Crime Victimization Survey, which relies on self-reports

of victimization, is an ongoing annual survey conducted by the federal

government (i.e., the Census Bureau on behalf of the Department of Justice)

that collects information from a representative sample of nearly

100,000 noninstitutionalized adults (age 12 and over) from approximately

50,000 households. It is widely viewed as a “gold standard” for measuring

crime victimization. The largest and oldest of the crime victimization

studies, it uses a rotating panel design in which respondents are interviewed

several times before they are “retired” from the sample. It uses a

relatively short, six-month reporting period. Respondents are instructed

to report only incidents that have occurred since the previous interview

and are reminded of the incidents they reported then. The initial interview

is done face-to-face to ensure maximum coverage of the population;

if necessary, subsequent interviews are also conducted in person. The

TABLE 2-1 Selected Sources of Firearm Data


Title of Data Set Agency Information Available

Firearm-Related Injury/Death

National Vital National Center Includes total numbers of firearm related

Statistics for Health deaths; death rates from homicide,

System—Final Statistics/ suicide, unintentional, and undetermined

Mortality Data Centers for shootings broken out by age, race, and

(NVSSF) Disease Control sex

and Prevention

National Vital National Center Provides data on selected major causes of

Statistics for Health death, as well as sex, race, age, date of

System—Current Statistics/ death, state in which death occurred

Mortality Sample Centers for

(NVSS) Disease Control

and Prevention

National Violent Centers for Data on violent deaths linked from

Death Reporting Disease Control medical examiners and coroners, police

System (NVDRS) and Prevention departments, death certificates, and crime

labs; would include circumstances of

firearm-related incidents

National Census of Bureau of Labor Complete count of all work-related injury

Fatal Occupational Statistics fatalities; includes job-related homicides

Injuries (CFOI) broken out by weapon

Survey of Bureau of Labor Includes information on circumstances

Occupational Injuries Statistics surrounding firearm-related injuries in

and Illnesses (SOH) the workplace

National Traumatic National Includes narrative text on industry,

Occupational Fatality Institute for occupation, cause of death, and injury

Surveillance System Occupational data on age, race, and sex; includes

(NTOF) Safety and numbers and rates of firearm-related

Health homicides, suicides, and other deaths

occurring at work

National Electronic U.S. Consumer Includes intentional and nonintentional

Injury Surveillance Products Safety nonfatal firearm-related injuries by

System All Injury Commission gender, age, type of injury, type of gun,

Program (NEISS- and nature of incident


National Hospital National Center Injury visits to hospital emergency

Ambulatory Medical for Health departments, including those caused by

Care Survey Statistics firearms


Geographic Frequency/

Population Areas Year Started

Deceased individuals National Annual/death

(data from death registration for

certificates) all states started

1933, detailed


data ftom 1989

Deceased individuals National Annual death

(data from death registration for

certificates) all states started


Homicide, suicide, and National Under

unintentional firearm- development

related deaths, and

deaths of undetermined


Employed civilians 16 National Annual/

years of age and older, started 1992

plus resident armed


Injuries reported by National Annual/

employers in private started 1992


Workers age 16 and National Data available

older certified on death from 1980

certificate as injured at


Admissions to hospital National Updated daily/

emergency departments redesigned

1978; all



starting in 2000

Admissions to hospitals National Annual/

with emergency started 1992



TABLE 2-1 Continued


Title of Data Set Agency Information Available

National Ambulatory National Center Includes age, sex, race, ethnicity, source

Medical Care Survey for Health of payment, and circumstances of injury-

(NAMCS) Statistics related visits, including firearm


National Health National Center Demographic information, physician and

Interview Survey for Health hospital visits, and other health-related

(NHIS) Statistics information; includes gunshot wounds

and type of gun; 1994 supplement on

firearm storage and safety

National Mortality National Center 1993 survey included information on

Followback Survey for Health firearm access, and circumstances of

(NMFS) Statistics homicide, suicide, and unintentional

injury deaths

Data Elements for National Center Standardized data definitions, coding,

Emergency for Injury and other specifications

Department Systems Prevention and

(DEEDS) Control (CDC)

International World Health External causes of injury in mortality and

Classification of Organization morbidity systems, including mechanism

External Causes of of injury

Injury (CECI)

Firearms Industry and Retail

Annual Firearms Bureau of Number of firearms produced, by type

Manufacturing and Alcohol,

Exportation Report Tobacco, and

(AFMER) Firearms

Census of Bureau of the Number of manufacturers, shipments,

Manufacturers Census value, employment, payroll, and

shipments by type of product for small

arms manufacturing and small arms

ammunition industries

Producer Price Index Bureau of Labor Prices and price change at wholesale

(PPI) Statistics level for various categories of firearms,

including “small arms” in general,

“pistols and revolvers,” “shotguns,” and

“rifles, centerfire”

Geographic Frequency/

Population Areas Year Started

Patient visits to office- National Annual/

based, nonfederally 1995—detailed

employed physicians injury



intent of injury


Civilian, National Annual/

noninstitutionalized U.S. 1996—detailed

households injury section


Persons age 15 and older National Irregular

who died in the year of frequency/

the survey started in 1960s

24-hour, hospital-based National Under

emergency departments development

Hospital emergency International Under

department records development

Firearms manufacturers National Annual

Manufacturers National

Producers in the mining National Monthly/

and manufacturing started 1902



TABLE 2-1 Continued


Title of Data Set Agency Information Available

Federal Firearms Bureau of Licensee name, trade name, address,

Licensee (FFL) List Alcohol, phone, and license number

Tobacco, and


Criminal Use of Firearms

National Crime Bureau of Victimizations, involving a firearm, by

Victimization Survey Justice Statistics type of crime


Uniform Crime Federal Bureau Total numbers of specific violent and

Reporting Program of Investigation property crimes, includes counts of

(UCR): Monthly weapon type used for robberies and

Return of Offenses aggravated assaults

Known to Police

Uniform Crime Federal Bureau Incident, victim, property, offender, and

Reporting Program: of Investigation arrestee data on each incident and arrest

National Incident- in 22 crime categories

Based Reporting

System (NIBRS)

Uniform Crime Federal Bureau Detailed descriptions of homicides,

Reporting Program: of Investigation including weapon used


Homicide Reports


Youth Crime Gun Bureau of Proportion of crime guns that are

Interdiction Initiative Alcohol, recovered from juveniles, youth, and

(YCGII) Tobacco, and adults; top source states; type of gun

Firearms used; “time to crime”

BATF Firearms Bureau of Firearms transaction records kept by

Trace Data Alcohol, federal firearms licensees, including date

Tobacco, and of sale and name of purchaser


Law Enforcement Federal Bureau Duty-related deaths and assaults of law

Officers Killed and of Investigation enforcement officers, by weapon used in

Assaulted (LEOKA) incident

Federal Justice Bureau of Data on federal criminal case processing

Statistics Program Justice Statistics from the receipt of a criminal matter or

(FJSP) arrest of suspect to release from prison

into supervision

Geographic Frequency/

Population Areas Year Started

Federal firearms National

licensees, except

collectors of curios and


Persons 12 years of age National Annual/

and older started 1973

Crimes reported by city, National Monthly/

county, and state law started 1930

enforcement agencies

Criminal incidents National Started 1989,

reported by local, state, under

and federal law development

enforcement agencies

Criminal incidents National Started 1976

reported by police


Guns recovered from 55 cities in Annual/

juveniles and adult 2001 started 1997


Firearms submitted by National Record-keeping

law enforcement for started 1968


Local, state, and federal National Annual

law enforcement officers

Defendants in criminal National Annual

cases, suspects in

investigative matters, and

offenders under



TABLE 2-1 Continued


Title of Data Set Agency Information Available

Census of State and Bureau of Demographic, socioeconomic, and

Federal Correctional Justice criminal history characteristics, including

Facilities Statistics/ gun possession and use

Bureau of the


National Violence National Prevalence, incidence, characteristics,

Against Women Institute of risk factors, circumstances, responses,

Survey (NVAWS) Justice/ Centers and consequences of rape, intimatefor

Disease partner assault and stalking; includes

Control and data on firearm use in these events


Arrestee Drug Abuse National Gun acquisition and use among

Monitoring Institute of arrestees, including gun carrying,

(ADAM~-gun Justice reasons for owning a gun, being

addendum threatened with a gun, and drug use

Firearms and Youth

Monitoring The National Range of behaviors and attitudes with

Future (MTF) Institute on focus on drug use; includes frequency of

Drug Abuse gun carrying at school

Youth Risk Behavior Centers for Prevalence of health risk behaviors

Surveillance System Disease Control including gun-carrying, weapon carrying

(YRBSS) and Prevention on school property, and weapon-related

threats or injuries on school property

Law and Enforcement

Firearm Inquiry Bureau of Handgun applications made to FFLs,

Statistics (FIST) Justice Statistics applications rejected, and reasons for


Geographic Frequency/

Population Areas Year Started

State correctional facility National Every 5 to 7

inmates years/started


U.S. households National Unrepeated/

conducted 1996

Arrestees charged with National 1996—gun

felonies and (gun addendum

misdemeanors addendum

includes 11

of the 35


6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th National Annual/

graders and young adults started 1972,

up to age 19 gun question

added in 1996

School-age youth grades National Every two

9 through 12; also 12- to years/started

21-year-olds in 1992 and 1990

college students in 1995

Chief law enforcement States Started 1995

officers operating

under the

Brady Act

and states




to the

Brady Act


TABLE 2-1 Continued


Title of Data Set Agency Information Available

Survey of State Bureau of State laws, regulations, procedures, and

Procedures Related to Justice Statistics information systems related to sales and

Firearm Sales other transactions of firearms

Firearms Ownership

General Social National Prevalence of ownership, type of gun

Survey (GSS) Opinion owned, opinion on permit and control

Research Center issues, and gun threat incidents

National Study of National Firearm ownership, acquisition, storage,

Private Ownership of Institute of and defensive use; size, number, and

Firearms in the Justice type of firearms owned


Survey of Gun National Characteristics of gun ownership, gun

Owners in the Institute of carrying, and circumstances of weapon-

U.S. Justice related incidents

NCVS and its predecessor, the National Crime Survey, underwent lengthy

development periods featuring record check studies and split-ballot

experiments to determine the best way to measure crime victimization

(Tourangeau and McNeeley, 2003).

Although the NCVS data do many things right, they are, like any such

system, beset with methodological problems of surveys in general as well as

particular problems associated with measuring illicit, deviant, and deleterious

activities (see National Research Council, 2003). Such problems include

nonreporting and false reporting, nonstandard definitions of events,

sampling problems such as coverage and nonreponse, and an array of other

factors involved in conducting surveys of individuals and implementing

official data reporting systems. Measurement problems have been particularly

controversial in using the NCVS to assess defensive gun uses (see

Chapter 5 and National Research Council, 2003, for further details).

In contrast to the NCVS, many other data sources used to measure or

monitor violence and crime are assembled as part of administrative records.

Geographic Frequency/

Population Areas Year Started

Federal, state, and local National Annual/

agencies, including law 1996

enforcement, statistical

analysis centers, and

legislative research


Noninstitutionalized National Biannual/

adults started 1972

U.S. households National Unrepeated/

conducted in


Adults age 18 and older National Unrepeated/

conducted in