According to FBI Homicide data, in 2011 – the latest year for which detailed statistics are available – there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms.
Murder Weapons 2011
Break the homicide numbers down by weapon type, and you get the following: Guns 68%, Knives 13%, Blunt objects 4%, Personal weapons (hands, feet) 6%, Other 9%.
|Murder Weapons 2011|
Firearm related murders break down as Handguns 72.47%, Rifles 3.76%, and Shotguns 4.15%.
Note that in 2011 rifles were used in 323 of the crimes, a number that would include “assault weapons”.
However, one should also note that the rifle number is often misstated to include all “long” guns, including shotguns, despite that fact that these are broken out separately in the FBI report. Shotguns were used in an additional 356 homicides, bringing the long gun total up to 679, or 7.91%.
Type Not Specified
Also of interest is that 1,587 deaths occurred from firearms whose type was not stated or reported.
If one were to make the fairly reasonable assumption that the unreported weapons followed the same general distribution pattern as the reported weapons, then those percentages could be calculated and folded into the existing numbers.
Handguns 8,809 or 88%; Rifles 396 or 4.6%; and Shotguns 419 or 5%. And a final long gun percentage of 9.6%, or 815, total.
As noted in How Many Gun Related Homicides In The US, the CDC indicates the firearm homicide numbers for 2011 were 11,101, and not the 8,583 homicides reported by the FBI.
The CDC is generally considered by researchers to be the more accurate source for gun homicide numbers. Their data comes directly from the National Vital Statistics System, which collects death certificates that are required to be filed in every state.
The FBI, on the other hand, relies on voluntary reporting by state and local law enforcement agencies and as such often results in under-reporting.
Apply the FBI percentage breakdowns to the CDC homicide totals, and you get Handguns 9,768, Rifles 510, and Shotguns 555. And a final long gun total of 1,065.
- FBI Uniform Crime Reports: Crime in the United States, 2011
- CDC NVSR Mortality Data, Preliminary, 2011 (PDF)