Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Murders and Unknown type of firearms

This is really more of an addendum to my previous Gun Control post.

While researching information for something else, I noticed a trend in the number of murders committed with an unknown type of firearm. As I posted in the Gun Control post, there are three possible answers on the Uniform Crime Report with regards to homicide and types of weapons. Those being, Handgun, Rifle, or Shotgun. In addition to listing the type of weapon, the person filling out the form, must also include how the weapon was used. An example in the Handbook is a perpetrator using a glass bottle. While a glass bottle would normally be considered a blunt object, if it's broken, and used to cut or stab, then the FBI will show it as a cutting weapon instead of a blunt weapon. The same is true for a shotgun. If a shotgun is used as a bat, instead of a shooting instrument, it will be listed as a blunt object instead of a firearm.

If a piece of pipe is used in a homicide, but that pipe contained a shotgun shell, and the cause of death was from being shot, then the weapon will be listed as a firearm, but will be listed as firearm "type unknown". This is not to say that all of the homicides listed under firearm type unknown on table 20 are from homemade firearms. Sometimes a person will be killed with a firearm but the firearm isn't recovered and that too will be listed as firearm type unknown. ALSO, a homemade zip gun using shotgun shells will be listed as firearm type shotgun. Unfortunately, there are no clear instructions in the handbook on how to list homemade firearms and with 14,478 homicide reports being submitted, in 2010, to the FBI, we 14,478 descriptions of weapons used. On to the visual aid....

As you can see, from 2004 to 2010 the percent of unknown types of firearms used to commit murder has nearly doubled. This percent is NOT affected by the shown murder rate, the actual number of unknown type firearms used in murder has nearly doubled from 1,161 in 2004 to 2,035 in 2010.

I had a conversation about this with an anti and it was suggested that the person filling out the report just didn't know how to list the firearm. While that may be true in a few cases, keeping with that argument would suggest that the police are becoming dumber with regards to recognizing firearms.

I would have liked to show a trend from 1995, which is the first year the FBI Uniform Crime Reports are available to the public on the FBI's web site, but the spread sheets are only available from 2004 and I wanted to make it as easy as possible for anyone that wanted to try to disprove my work.

Now, the next time the anti-rights cultist bigots calls for MORE gun control, ask them how they are going to control the homemade firearms, and I'm not talking about the 3-D printed ones, I'm talking about the ones made out of plumbing store parts.

ETA: It should be noted that the information provided in the second paragraph is for paper reports submitted to the FBI. Some agencies use Automated Data Processing (ADP) which is a computer program. If the agency is submitting information on the computer, there are five choices for firearms. Firearm, type not stated, Handgun, Rifle, Shotgun or Other Gun. Other Gun are listed on table 20 under Firearm, type unknown. It's also explicitly stated in the guidelines for using  ADP that grease guns and caulking guns are not to be listed under firearms. Why on Earth would this have to be pointed out?


  1. If I had to guess, it might be because most of the homicides occur in areas where the bodies get taken to public county or city hospitals where they don't have the staff to analyze a bullet fragment, if there is one. The body comes in with a bullet hole, and they don't bother to try to figure out what type of bullet caused it and why type of gun might have fired the bullet. Most of the time it's a hand gun anyway, but they can't say definitively. So, generic "firearm" will do.

    This is just another reason why trying to regulate the means of the homicide is pointless. Do the 80% of people murdered in Chicago by a gang member this year (Chicago police numbers, not mine) really care if they were shot by a hand gun or 'gasp!' an assault rifle, beaten to death by fists or baseball bats, or stabbed with a folding or fixed blade knife? Or make the homicide any more illegal?

    1. Table 20 is supplemental data that's not required to be submitted in order to participate in the Uniform Crime Report program. Chicago doesn't submit any supplemental data on homicides therefore Chicago's homicides aren't included in the information provided above.

      Also notable, Florida doesn't participate in the Uniform Crime Report program at all.

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