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Crime in the United States, 1979 - FBI Uniform Crime Reports

NCJ Number
P H Blackman
Date Published
9 pages
Based on the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, this paper discusses the relationship between gun laws or availability and trends in homicide and violent crime, robbery, aggravated assault, firearms accidents, and mandatory sentencing during 1979.
The rate of violent crime increased about 10 percent between 1978-79. Firearm involvement in violent crime fell slightly from 29 percent to 28.9 percent largely because firearm-related violent crime did not rise as fast as the overall national crime index. Homicide increased nationally by 8 percent, although 'domestic' slayings and homicide involving friends or acquaintances did not increase. The most common explanations for the increasing murder rate are drug dealing and addiction, economic decline, and rapid population growth. Nevertheless, the murder rate remains highest where guns in general, or handguns in particular, are least available. However, the absence of firearms availability encourages robbery and other dangerous crimes because it lowers the opportunity for response by the victim or the bystander. Both aggravated assault and firearm aggravated assault are related to city size and not to gun laws or gun availability, and a mandatory sentence for using a gun to commit a violent crime reduces violent crime. Weapons possession arrests increased slightly in 1979, and the number of fatal firearms accidents remained about the same as in 1978. Several data tables are included.