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Young males are an even larger percentage of firearm-related homicide

offenders than homicide victims. For example, cumulative data from

the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) for the years 1976 to

1999 reveal that males committed 90 percent of all firearm-related homicides

(Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002a). In 1999, 56 percent of the

10,969 offenders who used firearms to commit murder were between 14

and 24 years old. The rate of handgun murders by persons under age 18

nearly quadrupled from 1985 to 1993, and rates for 18- to 24-year-olds

more than doubled, while homicides by persons over 24 declined steadily

from 1985 on. The highest concentrations of recent involvement in handgun

homicides have been among young blacks; the homicide offense rate

among blacks ages 18 to 24 tripled between 1984 and 1993, while the

combined offense rates for young whites and Hispanics did not begin to

increase until 1987 and even then accounted for a relatively small proportion

of the subsequent rise and fall in the handgun homicide rate

(Blumstein, 2000).

Historically, firearm homicide rates have been higher than the national

average in the southern states, about average in the mid-Atlantic and north

central regions, and below average in the New England, mountain, and

west north central states (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002a). Larger cities

(more than 100,000) have had higher homicide and firearm homicide rates

than smaller cities, towns, or rural areas.

Firearms and Nonfatal Injuries

Aggravated Assault

Assaults are the most common type of nonfatal firearm injury in the

United States, but firearms are not the most common method of nonfatal

assault. Figure 3-4 shows trends in the rates of aggravated assault by

firearm involvement. According to the UCR, the aggravated assault rate

more than quadrupled from 1964 to 1992 and has been declining just as

steeply since then.11 Nonfirearm-related assaults accounted for 72 percent

of the overall rise from 1964 to 1992 and 57 percent of the overall

decline from 1992 to 2000; firearms were involved in only 18 percent of

assaults in 2000; and assaults using blunt objects constituted the largest

share of offenses.

11Recent trends in aggravated assault rates have dropped much more dramatically between

1993 and 2000 according to the NCVS than the UCR—53 versus 27 percent, respectively

(Maguire and Pastore, 2002: Table 3.120; Rennison, 2001: Table 8).