Gun Law Forum


News, discussion and analysis on US gun laws

The Face of Gun Homicide

By Junling Hu

Among all the homicide committed with guns, how many are calculated murder? How many are emotionally driven and happen in the heat of argument? Gun Homicide BreakdownSurprisingly, about 60% gun homicide happen during an argument. This includes argument at home, in a car, or at nightclubs.

In the heat of the moment, someone pulls out a gun and just shoot. The result is a dead person and a felony-to-be who will spend the rest of his life in prison. Not to mention shattered lives of their families.

Based on information from the website, which collects gun deaths in US from news media, I put together a chart (see above). In this chart, different types of gun homicide are shown as a percentage of total. This chart excludes suicide, but includes accidental gun death.

Dispute-driven shooting actually accounts for more than 60% of the total gun deaths because we have not accounted for mass shootings driven by domestic disputes. In Georgia, a professor shot his ex-wife and her colleagues; in California, the gunman opened fire at a retreat center, targeting his wife and others. If we add these instances, the actual death from dispute is about 64%.

Another tragic fact is shoot death by police. About 7% of shooting deaths happen when police are confronted with guns. Some police react justly, and some may have reacted hastily. But the main factor is the presence of gun. Such tragedy can be easily avoided if gun is not so widespread.

Cold-hearted murder accounts for 12% of gun death, some are driven by robbery, and some are driven by drug deals. Self-defense gun dealth accounts of a tiny 2%, and some of which are dubious claim with suspicious circumstances.

In the end, 86% of gun deaths are preventable and can be reduced through more sensible gun laws.

Our nation is bleeding every day, with gun shooting happens at every corner, from Maine to Texas, from Florida to Alaska. It is time to call for strong gun laws. Such laws save lives, for gun owners, for their families, and for the community.


Filed under: Statistics, , ,

3 Responses

  1. Ohio9 says:

    Your 2% self defense statistic is very deceptive because the overwhelming majority of people who use guns for self defense do not kill anyone. Most of the time, lives can be saved with no shots fired, and when shots are fired, they do not always result in fatal hits.

    All your 2% stat proves is that lawful citizens acting in self defense have a healthy respect for human life, including the lives of the people they are defending themselves against.

    Likewise, your 60% “dispute” statistic is also deceptive because a “dispute” can mean many different situations. Far from being a simple family or friend argument, many “disputes” involve drug dealers who get murdered by their customers, gang members (who know each other) who off each other in turf wars, and partners in crime who turn on each other because they want a bigger share of the loot.

    Many such “disputes” are not heat of the moment issues between previously lawful citizens, but are among hardened criminals whose willingness to kill stems not from having a gun, but from their criminal lifestyle

    As researcher Don Kates notes: “Only 15% of Americans have criminal records. But more than 90 percent of murderers do. Murderers’ crime careers average six or more years’ length and including four major adult felonies, not counting their often extensive juvenile records.”

  2. junling says:

    “the overwhelming majority of people who use guns for self defense do not kill anyone.” Where is the evidence? How does someone claimed he had “self defense” without killing someone?

    You claim that most disputes are among drug dealers. Unfortunately most cases here in this report are normal people, who disputed with their wife, friends, neighbor and co-workers. Please take a close look at these stories, and tell me how many are drug dealers:

  3. Ohio9 says:

    It’s very easy to perform gun self defense without killing someone. All you have to do is scare the criminal off, wound him, or hold him up at gun point until the cops show up to take him away. That’s what happenends most of the time when guns are used for self defense.

    The evidence that most self defense gun uses do not involve death is overwhelming.

    From a 1993 Government study:

    “On average in 1987-92 about 83,000 crime victims per year used a firearm to defend themselves or their property”

    Look at that! Over 83,000 self defense gun uses, yet there are only about 200 justified homicides per year. Clearly this proves most gun self defense cases don’t involve death.

    Furthermore, the 83,000 number is the smallest number I’ve seen. The National Crime Victimization Survey puts the number at over 100,000. Criminoligist Gary Kleck puts the number between 850,000 and 2.5 million. As he explains:

    “Despite this stated willingness of gun owners to shoot under certain circumstances, most defensive uses of guns do not in fact involve shooting anyone. Data from the National Self-Defense Survey indicate that no more than 8% of the 2.5 million annual defensive gun uses involved a defender who claimed to have shot their adversaries, or about 200,000 total. The 8% figure, however, should be taken with a grain of salt because it is based on a sample of only 213 cases, 17 of whom reported a wounding, and because the respondants were not asked how they knew they had wounded the criminals. In cases where the criminal escaped, these reports may often have been based on favorable guesses about the shooter’s marksmanship skills. As Marc Gertz and I noted, the claimed “hit rate” of shooters in the National-Self-Defense-Survey-reported incidents was higher than that of police officers, an unlikely level of shooting skill under stress.

    Regardless, there is nothing even mildly implausible about 200,000 annual nonfatal woundings linked with defensive gun uses, in light of the estimated 150,000 annual medically treated gunshot woundings. There could also easily be just as many more that went untreated because they involved criminals wounded by their victims during a criminal attempt. Criminals wounded in the course of attempting a crime against an armed victim are almost certainly a set of persons lying largely outside the set of persons receiving medical treatment for gun-shot wounds, and thus the size of the latter set can tell us nothing about how large the former should be.

    The rarest, but most serious form of self-defense with a gun is a defensive killing. The FBI does not publish statistics on self-defense killings per se, but it did start publishing counts of civilian justifiable homicides gathered through their Supplementary Homicides Reports program in their 1991 issue. For a variety of reasons, the FBI counts of civilian justifiable homicides represent only a minority of all civilian legal defensive homicides. FBI-counted civilian justifiable homicides were used to estimate total civilian legal defensive homicides. FBI counts of police justifiable homicides are also reported here. Regardless of which counts of homicides by police are used, the results indicate that civilians legally kill far more felons than police officers do. The figures imply that, of 24,614 civilian (not by police) homicide deaths in the United States in 1990, about 1400 to 3200, or 5.6% to 13.0% were legal civilian defensive homicides.”

    For more information, check with the Clayton Cramer Self defense blog. They publish gun self defense stories, which usually come out on a daily basis:

    I didn’t say that most people who kill in “disputes” are drug dealers. What I said was the overwhelming majority of them are criminals whose willingness to kill stems from their criminal lifestyle, not immediate access to guns. These generally are not “normal” people, unless your definition of normal includes multiple felony arrests. As Kates notes in the report I cited:

    From a New York Times study of the 1,662 murders in that city over the years 2003-2005: “More than 90 percent of the killers had criminal records ….”

    *”Some 95% of homicide offenders… [in a Kennedy School study in Massachusetts had been] arraigned at least once in Massachusetts courts before they [murdered],… On average … homicide offenders had been arraigned for 9 prior offenses….

    *Of Illinois murderers over the years 1991-2000, the great majority had prior felony records.

    *Baltimore police records show that 92% of 2006 murder suspects had criminal records.

    * From a Milwaukee police compilation of data on 2007 and past years’ murders” “Most suspects had criminal records, and a quarter of them [killed while still] on probation or parole.”

    *Eighty percent of Atlanta murder arrestees had previously been arrested at least once for a drug offense; and 70% had three or more prior drug arrests – in addition to all their arrests for other crimes.

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