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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98431 Find in a Library
Title: Case of the Missing Victims - Gunshot Woundings in the National Crime Survey
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology  Volume:1  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1985)  Pages:91-102
Author(s): P J Cook
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 12
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This assessment of the reliability of the 1973-79 National Crime Surveys' (NCS) estimate of nonfatal firearms assaults indicates that it is low by a factor of about 3.0 compared with the number of criminal gunshot woundings known to the police over this period.
Abstract: NCS data estimate that 171,000 Americans were nonfatally shot in criminal assaults, robberies, and rapes during 1973-79. Comparing this estimate with the number of firearms homicides during this period suggests either that the death rate in gunshot cases is very high (over one-third) or that the NCS estimate is low. Based on police statistics pertinent to the death rate from gunshot wounds, the NCS estimate is apparently low by a factor of about 3.0 compared to police data. Survey-based estimates of assault rates are commonly known to be unreliable, largely due to respondents' being unwilling or unable to recall minor assaults. This assessment indicates that the unreliability of estimates is not limited to minor assaults. There are two reasons why the NCS may fail to record a high percentage of shootings. First, NCS respondents shot by relatives or friends, or shot in circumstances in which they themselves may have been involved in criminal behavior, may prefer not to mention such incidents. Second, the NCS sample underrepresents the kinds of people criminologists believe are most likely to be victims of serious violent crime -- young males heavily involved in the 'street' life and other groups vulnerable to violence because of their deviant lifestyles. Tabular data and 13 reference notations are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Assault with a deadly weapon; Firearms; National crime surveys; Victimization surveys
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