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Males are more likely to be victims of homicide than females, and they

are even more likely to be killed by firearms. In 1999, male victims accounted

for 83 percent of firearm-related homicides and 64 percent of other homicides.

9 The male firearm-related homicide victimization rate was 6.71 deaths

per 100,000, compared with a female rate of 1.35 (Bureau of Justice Statistics,

2002a, 2002b). From 1981 to 1999, trends in firearm-related homicides

of males seem to explain much of the trends in the total homicide rate.

Young adults and adolescents are disproportionately victimized by firearm-

related homicide. The rise and decline of the firearm-related homicide

rate beginning in the mid-1980s was largely confined to the young adult

and adolescent males (Wintemute, 2000). From 1981 to 1999, 20- to 24-

year-olds were most likely to be victims of homicide, especially by firearms,

but victimization rates among 15- to 19-year-olds rose and fell more dra-

1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000

Rate per 100,000

12

10

8

6

4

2

0

Total

Handguns

Knives

Other Firearms

Other Weapons

Unknown

FIGURE 3-2 Murder rates by weapon type.

SOURCES: Fox (2001); U.S. Department of Justice (2001); U.S. Census Bureau

(2001a, 2001b, 2002).

9SHR data for 1999 are nearly identical for male involvement in firearm- and nonfirearmrelated

murder at 83 and 62 percent, respectively (calculated from Fox, 2001).

matically than other age groups between 1985 and 1999. Adolescent victimization

rates surpassed the rates for those 25 and older by 1990 and did

not fall back below the rate for persons in their late 20s until 1998.

Blacks have been at high risk of victimization by firearm-related homicide.

Figure 3-3 indicates that in 1999, for example, non-Hispanic blacks

accounted for 51 percent of the firearm-related homicide victims, while

representing only 13 percent of the total population (Bureau of Justice

Statistics, 2002a). The firearm-related homicide victimization rate was

16.64 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic blacks, 6.19 for Hispanics, 1.53 for

non-Hispanic whites, and 2.60 for other races. Blacks were also disproportionately

affected by the rise and fall of firearm homicides in the 1980s and

1990s.10

10Race is presented in the figure regardless of Hispanic ethnicity, since Hispanic ethnicity is

not available in the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS)

prior to 1990.

1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999

Rate per 100,000

35

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

Blacks

Whites

Other

FIGURE 3-3 Firearm-related murder victimization rates by race, 1981-1999.

SOURCE: National Vital Statistics System data compiled using Web-based Injury

Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). National Center for Health

Statistics (2002).