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Violence Prevention Coalition of Orange County Firearm Facts. Definition of firearm violence:

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Violence Prevention Coalition of Orange County

Firearm Facts

Definition of firearm violence:

Injury or death due to the use of a handgun, shotgun, rifle or other firearm and including self-inflicted injuries and suicide, assault and homicide, and unintentional injuries and death due to discharge of a firearm.

Extent of problem

  • In 2001 in the United States there were 29, 573 deaths, a rate of 10.3 per 100,00 people. 86% of the victims were male and 24% were between the ages of 15 and 24. (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, 02/04)
  • The rate of firearm deaths in the US among children 0-14 years old was 12 times that of the combined rate for 25 comparable countries. The rate was 2.7 times greater than that in the country with the next highest rate. (CDC: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1997:46(5):101-104)
  • More US teenagers die from gunshot wounds than from all natural causes of death combined. (Journal of the American Medical Association 1996:275(22):1754)
  • For every firearm fatality in the United States, there are two non-fatal firearm injuries. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nonfatal and fatal firearm-related injuries – US, 1993-97. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 1999)
  • In California firearm deaths no longer outnumber motor vehicle-related deaths. In 2001 there were 3,829 motor vehicle-related deaths and 3,186 firearm deaths. (Calif. Dept. of Health Services, Epidemiology and Prevention for Injury Control.)
  • Firearms are the leading cause of death of in 2001 for Californians ages 20-34 (Ca. Dept. of Health Services.)
  • The number of Californians who died from firearms increased by 5.9% in 2001 compared to 2000. (Ibid)

Orange County

Violence Facts

  • In 2001 there were 92 firearm suicide deaths in Orange County, 39% of the 235 total suicides. This is a reduced percentage compared to the 51% of the 247 total suicides in 1995. (California Department of Health Services, Epidemiology and Prevention for Injury
  • 46 of the 2001 Orange County homicides involved firearms--63% of all homicides in Orange in that year. (Ibid.)
  • In 1995 in Orange County the number of deaths due to firearms, 268, surpassed those due to motor vehicle collisions, 223). In 2001 in Orange County, motor vehicle related deaths surpassed firearms deaths. 229 motor vehicle-related deaths and 139 deaths due to firearms. (Ibid.)
  • In 2001 in Orange County 22%, (compared to 31% in 1995) of all firearm deaths were young people aged 15-24 years. Another 17% (compared to 25% in 1995) of firearm deaths involved those aged 25-34. (Ibid.)
  • In 1999 in Orange County there were 26,357 handguns sold and 144 licenses obtained for firearms. Of handguns sold: 72% were pistols, 27% were revolvers and 1 % was listed as “other.” 94% of purchases were made by males. (Handgun Commerce in California 1999, Violence Prevention Research Program, JC Davis)

Updated 3/04


Underlying and Contributing Factors

  • In 1997, the presence of a gun in the home made it 3.4 times more likely a woman would become a homicide victim and 7.2 times as likely she would be a victim of homicide by a spouse, intimate or close relative. (James E. Bailey et. al., Risk Factors for Violence Death of Women in the Home, Archives of Internal Medicine 157, No. 7, 777-782 (1997)
  • A gun in the home is most likely to be used against someone who lives in that home or knows someone who lives there. In California, from 1990 through 1995, only 17% of people murdered in a home were killed by a stranger. Of those killed in their own homes, two-thirds knew their killer. When the shooting occurred in the shooter’s home, 63% of those killed were intimates or family members and 29% were acquaintances. (“Residential Firearm Homicides in California”, Report No. 3, August 1998. of the Epidemiology and Prevention for Injury Control (EPIC) Branch, California Department of Health Services.)
  • In 1994 there are approximately 192 million firearms in homes in the US, with about 35% of households having guns. More recently purchased handguns were more likely to have large magazine capacities and be of larger caliber than older handguns. (National Institute of Justice Research Brief: Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms, May 1997)
  • In 1994 20% of all gun-owning households had an unlocked, loaded gun in the home. This percentage increased to 34% for handgun owners. Gun owners who received formal training were no more likely to store their guns locked and unloaded than those who did not with the exception of those who took a course offered by the National Safety Council. Men who carried guns were about 2½ times as likely to have been arrested for a non-traffic offense as other men were. (Ibid.)
  • An estimated 28.9% of Californians report having a gun in the home. 67% of those with a gun in the home had a handgun. Whites were most likely to report having a gun in the home (35%) and Hispanics least likely (16%). Gun ownership increased with increasing income. 29% kept their gun loaded. 54% reported ever keeping their gun locked up. (California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey 1991-1993. EPIC Proportions 10/96; No. 8)
  • Guns were used in 73.4% of all California homicides in 2002. (Office of the Attorney General, State of California)
  • Nearly all childhood unintentional shooting deaths occur in or around the home. Fifty percent occur in the home, and 40% occur in the home of a friend.
  • (National Safe Kids Campaign, 1997) Updated 3/04