“Firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011 and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011,” the report said.
There were seven gun homicides per 100,000 people in 1993, the Pew Research Center study says, which dropped to 3.6 gun deaths in 2010. The study relied in part on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49 percent lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew,” according to the Pew study. “The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75 percent lower in 2011 than in 1993.”
The Pew Research Center found that only 12 percent of Americans believe the gun crime rate is lower today than it was in 1993; 56 percent believe it’s higher (the Pew report notes) .
The Pew study noted that U.S. gun crime rate peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, ending and upswing in gun violence that began in the 1960s. But the rate of suicides committed using a firearm hasn’t fallen as fast, noting that 6 out of every 10 gun deaths in America stems from suicide.
“Looking at the larger topic of firearm deaths, there were 31,672 deaths from guns in the U.S. in 2010. Most (19,392) were suicides; the gun suicide rate has been higher than the gun homicide rate since at least 1981, and the gap is wider than it was in 1981,” according to the Pew Center study.
In 2010, 84 percent of those killed were male; 69 percent were between the ages of 18 and 40. And 55 percent of gun homicides that year were black, the researchers found — far higher than their share of the population (13 percent).
The study also notes that while the number of gun homicides has dropped, the number of guns in America hasn’t.
Noting that it isn’t clear how many Americans have guns in their households, the Pew researchers found that the “2009 per capita rate of one person per gun in the U.S. had roughly doubled since 1968.”
The federal report included data about where criminals had acquired their weapons.
“In 2004 (the most recent year of data available), among state prison inmates who possessed a gun at the time of the offense, fewer than two percent bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show,” according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. “About 10 percent of state prison inmates said they purchased it from a retail store or pawnshop, 37 percent obtained it from family or friends, and another 40 percent obtained it from an illegal source.”