23 Significant Handgun Crime Statistics

Do guns people? Or do people kill people? Some might blame the instrument that is used to commit a crime and others might say people who commit crimes will do so whether a gun is present or not. The fact remains, however, the gun violence is prevalent in America today.

Most homicides in the United States are committed with firearms, especially handguns.

Handgun Crime

With the Supreme Court ruling that the 2nd Amendment applies on an individual basis for the ownership of guns, there aren’t going to be any gun control laws passing any time soon. At best, expanded background checks and qualification methods that include proof of skill to use a handgun will be required. That still doesn’t change the fact, however, that someone who wants a handgun to commit a crime is still going to just get one.

  • Gang related homicides involving firearms occurred in 95% of the total incidents.
  • Firearms used to commit a felony rose to 74% from 1980 to 2005.
  • The amount of nonfatal firearm crimes committed annually: over 400,000.
  • The number of crimes has dropped by over 1 million per year, coming down from a 1994 high of 1.3 million incidents.
  • Up to 34% of American adults own at least one gun, which accounts for up to 80 million Americans.
  • Republicans are twice as likely to own a handgun than a Democrat.
  • A greater percentage of whites in the United States own a weapon than any minority group.

The average gun owner isn’t going to commit a crime. Handguns are used for a variety of legitimate purposes. Self-defense, hunting, or even gun sports are all popular reasons to own a handgun. The problem is that handguns are also used in a majority of crimes because they are so easy to transport. You can throw a handgun into a pocket and have a deadly weapon that can be yielded to commit a felony. They are highly affordable, easy to obtain in legal or illegal means, and this causes a problem for the American society.

Are Handguns Used Often for Self Defense?

  • In a 1993 survey of households that own a gun, only 0.5% of them stated that they had used their firearm for self-defense.
  • In comparison, over 10,000 homicides every year are committed with a handgun.
  • 8% of perpetrators who sexually assault someone else have a handgun or other weapon that is visibly displayed during the crime.
  • In a 1982 survey of prisoners, one-third of them stated that a gun had been used in a defensive way against them.
  • The percentage of prisoners who say that they personally know someone who was scared off by an armed victim: 69%.

Some of the data here seems to conflict. The only possible solution is that people who are looking to commit a crime are doing so against the same people who find themselves armed. Otherwise gun owners are lying about the amount of self-defense uses they have with their weapons or prisoners are lying about how often an armed potential victim has confronted them with a weapon. Either way, just owning a handgun doesn’t mean that someone is going to commit a crime. It just means that they own a gun. Nothing more, nothing less.

Is Owning a Handgun Necessary Today?

  • The percentage of Americans who will be the victim of an attempted or completed violent crime against them: 83%.
  • More than half of all Americans will be the victim or attempted victim of a violent crime more than once in their lifetimes.
  • At the current homicide rate, about 1 in 240 Americans will die not from natural causes, but because they were murdered.
  • For every 12 aggravated assaults or other violent crimes that occur, only 1 person will be sentenced to prison.
  • Over two thirds of felons who complete their sentence or are released from prison will be arrested for committing a new offense.
  • Between 2003-2005, there were over 1,600 murders in New York City. 90% of them were committed by people with criminal records.

The fact that so many people will have a violent crime attempted against them speaks of three things about American society. First of all, it says that not everyone is able to pursue their own form of happiness like the government reportedly allows. Most people do not commit a crime for the sake of doing so. They commit crime because they are desperate and see no other way out. Secondly, it shows that access to weapons is very prevalent in American society. If you want a handgun, you can get it. You can register your name for one or you can buy one online without a background check. Thirdly, it means that having something on hand for self-defense is likely necessary. Your average married couple will have on partner be threatened or assaulted violently at least twice in their life. Think about that.

Are Things Getting Better?

  • U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39% over the course of 18 years.
  • Non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more: 69%.
  • Only 2% of people who committed a crime with a handgun purchased the weapon at a flea market or a gun show.
  • 40% of the handguns that are obtained for a crime are procured illegally.
  • Homicide rates in the 2000′s were equal to the low rates that were seen in the 1960s, but only 12% of people in a recent Pew survey thought that crime rates were lower overall.

Things are getting better, but there is a long journey still ahead. One homicide is too many and there are more than 10,000 of them every year. Crime rates have been trending lower and that’s a good thing, even though news reports of mass murders, school shootings, and other horrible incidents are on the rise. Handgun crime is always a bad thing and there’s a good chance it could happen to you. Will you be ready if or when it does?

Gun Ownership Statistics and Facts
This source of this infographic is located at instantcheckmate.com.