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Gun Homicides Made Up Record High Share of Murders in 2016, Analysis of FBI Data Shows

A greater percentage of homicides were carried out with a gun in 2016 than in any year since the Federal Bureau of Investigation began keeping records, an analysis of new data from the agency shows. The number of gun killings also jumped sharply year over year, propelled by a surge in violence in many major American cities, including Chicago and Baltimore, the FBI data shows.

A total of 17,250 people were murdered in the United States in 2016, according to the FBI’s annual crime report. The murder rate jumped 8.6 percent, marking the second consecutive year-over-year increase. The year before, the homicide rate rose 10.8 percent.

Of the 15,070 homicides where information about weapons was recorded, 73 percent were carried out with a gun, according to the FBI data.

 

The share of all homicides carried out with a gun was the highest since at least 1995, according to historical records kept by the FBI. Crime analyst Jeff Asher, working with data going back to 1960, determined that the percentage of gun murders was the highest on record.

National homicide rates can be misleading. As John Pfaff, a criminology professor at Fordham University noted on Twitter on Monday, the surge in the murder rate can be partially attributed to sharp increases at the local level.

The report showed there were an estimated 1.2 million violent crimes in the U.S. last year. Despite the recent increases, the overall violent crime rate is 12.3 percent lower than it was in 2007.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown from the FBI of the 15,070 homicides in which the type of weapon was recorded.

Weapons 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total 12,888 12,253 12,270 13,750 15,070
Total firearms 8,897 8,454 8,312 9,778 11,004
     Handguns 6,404 5,782 5,673 6,569 7,105
     Rifles 298 285 258 258 374
     Shotguns 310 308 264 272 262
     Other guns 116 123 93 177 186
     Firearms, type not stated 1,769 1,956 2,024 2,502 3,077
Knives or cutting instruments 1,604 1,490 1,595 1,589 1,604
Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) 522 428 446 450 472
Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) 707 687 682 659 656
Poison 13 11 10 8 11
Explosives 8 2 7 1 1
Fire 87 94 71 84 107
Narcotics 38 53 70 75 114
Drowning 14 4 14 14 9
Strangulation 90 85 89 99 98
Asphyxiation 106 95 102 120 91
Other weapons or weapons not stated 802 850 872 873 903