For Release: Wednesday, November 28, 2001
Washington, DC – Children and youth are murdered with handguns more often than with all other weapons combined, according to a new 27-page study released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). Kids in the Line of Fire: Children, Handguns, and Homicide is a first-time analysis of handgun murders of children up to age 17. The study analyzes unpublished Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) homicide data for the five-year period 1995 through 1999 – the most recent data available. During this period, nearly a third (32.1 percent) of child handgun homicide victims were murdered by another child. Other findings include: an average of two children per day were murdered with handguns in the U.S. from 1995 to 1999; and, that black children had the highest rate of handgun homicide victimization – seven times higher than that of white children.
“Although a tragedy in New Bedford, Massachusetts, was apparently averted this week, two kids are murdered with handguns every day in our country,” states Karen Brock, VPC health policy analyst and study author. “Children can’t legally buy handguns, children can’t legally possess handguns – yet they are killing each other with handguns. The reason: children still have easy access to handguns because of the lax practices of an unregulated gun industry and the mistaken idea that a handgun in the home offers protection, when in reality it is far more likely to result in horrific consequences.”
Kids in the Line of Fire contains both national and state statistics. It ranks states by both rate of child victims murdered by a handgun, as well as rate of child shooters who murdered with a handgun. The report also ranks states by the percentage of child homicides in which a handgun was used. Additional data for the top 15 states include: race of victim; type of firearm used; relationship of victim to offender; and, the circumstances of the homicide.
For the years 1995 through 1999, the overall national rate of child handgun homicide victims in the U.S. was 1.20 per 100,000. For that period, 11 states had child handgun homicide victim rates higher than the national average: Maryland (2.86 per 100,000); Louisiana (2.4 per 100,000); Illinois (2.24 per 100,000); California (2.19 per 100,000); Nevada (1.85 per 100,000); Arizona (1.69 per 100,000); Missouri (1.39 per 100,000); Tennessee (1.37 per 100,000); Alabama (1.28 per 100,000); Georgia (1.27 per 100,000); and, Oklahoma (1.23 per 100,000).