Gun-related deaths plummet
Web Site Report
From November 19, 1999
ATLANTA (AP) - Gun deaths in the United States dropped 21% between 1993 and 1997 to the
lowest level in more than 30 years, and firearm-related injuries fell 41 percent, the
government said Thursday.
Experts cited such reasons as tougher gun control laws, a booming economy, better police
work and gun safety courses.
|Gun deaths and gun injuries for the years 1993
through 1997 as reported by emergency rooms. Statistics include all gunshot wounds,
including intentional, accidental and self-inflicted. The number in parentheses is the
number of incidents per 100,000 people:
|Source: Centers for Disease Control and
The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at all gunshot
wounds reported at emergency rooms, whether they were intentional, accidental or
The number of fatalities dropped from 39,595 - 15.4 gun deaths per 100,000 people - in
1993, to 32,436- 12.1 per 100,000 - in 1997.
The rate ''is the lowest it's been since the mid-'60s,'' said J. Lee Annest, a CDC
statistician. ''This progress is really encouraging and really says that joint prevention
efforts of public health officials, legislators and law enforcement should continue.''
The drop was not unexpected: Homicide rates in the 1990s have fallen to levels not seen
since the 1960s, and about two-thirds of all homicides are committed with guns. But the
latest figures also include suicides and accidental deaths.
Moreover, nonfatal shootings fell from 104,390 to 64,207 in the same period, or from 40.5
per 100,000 to 24.0.
Bill Manown, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said the numbers prove that
more gun laws aren't needed; the laws on the books need to be enforced.
''It is a fact that this substantial drop in gun violence directly correlated to a big
increase in gun enforcement by police,'' said Lawrence W. Sherman, a University of
Pennsylvania professor who has studied gun policy. ''Police were not treating guns in a
preventive sense prior to 1993 and now they are.''
Some experts also credit a strong economy that has helped reduce overall crime and suicide
attempts. Margaret A. Zahn, a North Carolina State University criminology professor, said
prosperity has also allowed governments to spend more on services that prevent gun
violence, such as domestic-violence shelters and youth recreation programs.
The CDC also listed such possible factors as an aging population, increased gun safety
measures and the waning of the crack trade.
Gun control advocates said they are encouraged, but pointed out that even so, an average
of 265 people a day were shot in 1997.
''People shouldn't be satisfied,'' said Nancy Hwa, spokeswoman for Handgun Control and the
Center to Prevent Handgun Violence. ''Everybody is still at risk, and the presence of guns
should still be a major concern.''