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NCJ Number: 47874 Find in a Library
Title: MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE - FIREARM CALIBER AS A DETERMINANT OF DEATH FROM ASSAULT
Journal: JOURNAL OF LEGAL STUDIES  Volume:1  Dated:(JANUARY 1972)  Pages:97-123
Author(s): F E ZIMRING
Date Published: 1972
Page Count: 27
Type: Statistics
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: USING DATA FROM AN ANALYSIS OF FATAL AND NONFATAL FIREARM ATTACKS REPORTED TO THE CHICAGO (ILL.) POLICE OVER A 5-MONTH PERIOD, A COMPARISON OF THE DEATH RATES FROM LARGE- AND SMALL-CALIBER WEAPONS IS MADE.
Abstract: IN CHICAGO BETWEEN MARCH 5 AND JULY 22, 1970, 1,115 GUN ATTACKS RESULTING IN 156 FATALITIES WERE REPORTED TO THE POLICE. SHOTGUN ATTACKS (12 PERCENT OF ALL ATTACKS) AND LARGE-CALIBER RIFLE ATTACKS (LESS THAN 1 PERCENT OF ATTACKS) WERE EXCLUDED FROM THE STUDY BECAUSE THEY CANNOT BE EASILY COMPARED WITH OTHER TYPES OF FIREARMS. DATA ON FATAL ROBBERIES WERE ALSO EXCLUDED FROM THE MAIN STUDY (19 PERCENT OF ALL FATALITIES) BECAUSE THE INFORMATION NEEDED WAS NOT AVAILABLE FROM THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE REST OF THE STUDY. THIS LEFT A SAMPLE OF 932 CASES, THE GREAT MAJORITY OF THEM ATTACKS MADE WITH HANDGUNS. AN ANALYSIS OF PARTICULAR TYPES OF FIREARM ATTACKS INDICATED THAT THE SAMPLE OF ATTACKS FOR WHICH CALIBER IS KNOWN IS AN ACCEPTABLY REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE OF ALL FIREARM ATTACKS BY CALIBER. BECAUSE A GREATER NUMBER OF LARGE-CALIBER HANDGUN ATTACKS RESULT IN MULTIPLE WOUNDS THAN DO SMALL-CALIBER GUNS, IT WAS NECESSARY TO PRESENT, FOR ALL ATTACKS IN WHICH FIREARM CALIBER WAS IDENTIFIED, THE PRCENTAGE OF SINGLE-WOUND ATTACKS TO EACH OF THREE REGIONS OF THE BODY THAT RESULT IN DEATH, AND A SIMILAR COMPARISON FOR ATTACKS THAT INVOLVE MULTIPLE WOUNDS. THREE INFLUENCES ON THE FATALITY RATE FROM FIREARM ARTTACKS ARE NOTED: (1) INDEPENDENT OF CALIBER AND NUMBER OF WOUNDS, ATTACKS THAT RESULT IN WOUNDS TO THE HEAD AND CHEST ARE THREE TIMES AS DEADLY AS GUN ATTACKS THAT RESULT IN WOUNDS ONLY TO THE ABDOMEN, NECK, OR BACK; (2) THE DEATH RATE FOR MULTIPLE-WOUND ATTACKS WHERE THE MOST SERIOUS WOUND WAS TO THE HEAD OR CHEST IS HIGHER THAN THE RATE FOR SINGLE WOUNDS TO THE HEAD OR CHEST, AND CLEARLY IS MUCH HIGHER THAN IF THE OFFENDER HAD STOPPED AFTER HIS FIRST WOUND, WHICH MAY HAVE HIT A LESS DANGEROUS AREA; (3) ATTACKS FROM .38 CALIBER GUNS ARE MORE THAN TWICE AS DEADLY AS .22 CALIBER ATTACKS, AND AMONG THE LESS COMMONLY USED WEAPONS, .25 AND .32 CALIBER FIREARMS ARE MORE LIKELY TO KILL THAN .22'S AND LESS LIKELY TO KILL THAN .38 CALIBER ATTACKS. IMPLICATIONS OF THESE FINDINGS FOR GUN CONTROL AND CRIMINAL LAW ARE DISCUSSED IN TERMS OF RAISING QUESTIONS TO BE CONSIDERED RATHER THAN CLEAR ANSWERS THAT WOULD DETERMINE POLICY. TABLES OF DATA AND NOTES ARE INCLUDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Firearms; Homicide; Illinois; Statistical analysis
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=47874

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