Statistics
 

 

Gun violence is defined as including intentional injuries and deaths, psychological and emotional harm, and the damage to property and economic well being from the deliberate misuse of firearms. Gun violence also includes the unintentional injuries and deaths, and the psychological, emotional, and economic harms which could have been prevented with prudent care in the use of guns. Gun violence does not include the safe, lawful use of firearms for sport, hunting or target practice, law enforcement, or self-defense.

The frequency, prevalence and costs of firearm-related injuries and deaths describe a national epidemic; and Michigan plays a major role in this tragedy. Overall, in 1994 firearms claimed more than 39,000 lives across the nation, and more than 1,200 in Michigan. Over half of these deaths are to young people, under the age of 35. Firearm deaths are second, only to motor vehicle accidents, as the major cause of death among young adults in Michigan and the U.S.

The following summarizes the impact of gun violence in Michigan, across a number of dimensions. The data on fatalities is summarized from information compiled by the Office of the State Registrar from death certificates.

 
 

Homicide
Suicide
Unintentional Deaths
Non-Fatal Firearm Injuries
Summary Statistics
 

Homicide

 

While Michigan as a whole experienced a five percent decline in the number of all unintentional injury deaths in the decade between 1983 and 1992, there was a concomitant 11.5% increase in homicide deaths, reaching a high of 1,042 murders in 1992. Of these, 70% (729) were murdered by firearm. These numbers have begun to decrease slightly, so that in 1995, there were 929 murders in the state, but 71.3% (662) were committed using firearms. Almost half of all firearm homicides were to African American males, between the ages of 15-34. (African Americans account for less than 15% of the total state population.) While homicide rates have remained relatively stable over the past three years, gun violence by juveniles has increased. Both nationally and in Michigan, males between the ages of 20-24 have the highest rates of firearm related deaths, with the most dramatic increase occurring among 15-19 year olds. Michigan's rate of increase in homicides among 15-34 year olds has been consistently higher than the national rate.

Homicide in the African American community impacts disproportionately on the young and those in the urban areas. Researchers have found that homicide among young African Americans accounts for two-thirds of the years of potential life lost before age 65 in the state.

A study of homicides in the City of Detroit from 1980-1988 found that the homicide rate for children ages 10 to 18 increased 252%, accounting for 41% of all deaths to children in the city. Homicides today are the leading cause of death among children in Detroit. The tripling of the homicide rate in Detroit among 15-18 year olds is attributable almost exclusively to firearm deaths.

Most homicides occur in the homes or on the streets. However, homicides in the workplace are also a significant problem in Michigan. In 1992, there were 35 work-related homicides in the state, of which 23 were firearm deaths. In 1994, Michigan's 39 workplace homicides comprised more than a third of all workplace murders in the Six Great Lake States. The Michigan workplace homicide rate in the 1980s was 50% higher than the national rate of 12%. Firearms were the weapons of choice.

 

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Suicide

 

There were 969 suicides in Michigan in 1995. In 572 of them, a person used a firearm to take their own life. Nationally, the use of firearms to commit suicide has increased while other methods have remained constant. In fact, nationally more people kill themselves with a firearm than all other methods combined. This is also true in Michigan where between 1989 and 1995 the proportion of suicides by firearms to total suicides has hovered between 56% and 59%.

The majority of firearm suicides in the state take place in the home. For example, in 1994, 80.8% of firearm suicides took place in the home. Mirroring national trends, most firearm suicides in Michigan are committed by males.

Nationally, suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults. This is true in Michigan also, following motor vehicles and homicides among youth ages 15-24. In 1995, 154 youth took their own lives, of these 111 used a gun. Suicide rates increased more than five fold among adolescents between 1950-1991. A number of studies from other states suggest that this increase is largely accounted for by the increased availability of firearms to adolescents in their homes.

Receiving less attention is the fact that suicide rates are highest among the elderly. After a thirty-year decrease, suicides increased nationally among the elderly by 25% between 1981-1988. Several factors have been offered as contributing to this increase, including increased access to firearms. 44% of individuals age 65 or older who committed suicide in Michigan in 1995 used a firearm.

Males use firearms in suicides more often than females by a 2:1 margin. Yet, firearms were still the leading method used by both men and women. Firearms were also the leading method among both whites and African Americans.

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Unintentional Deaths

 

Between 1993-1995, 83 Michigan residents were killed by the unintentional discharge of a firearm. Forty-one of these cases involved children and adolescents under the age of 20. Of the 83 unintentional firearm deaths, 75 cases involved males.

Unintentional deaths occur most often in the home with children and adolescents being the most likely victims. Several studies suggest that the availability of firearms in the home increases the likelihood of an unintentional shooting. Gun storage patterns and easy accessibility to loaded weapons is highly correlated with unintentional deaths.

In Michigan, the majority of unintentional deaths occur to whites, except for African Americans between the ages of 15-29.

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Non-Fatal Firearm Injuries

 

There is no consistent, complete system in place to track non-fatal injuries, and thus most information is based on estimates. National studies suggest a ratio of non-fatal to fatal injuries at anywhere between 2.4 to 7.5 non-fatal injuries for every fatal injury. Applying these estimates to Michigan, in 1995, there were between 3,029 and 9,465 non-fatal gunshot injuries.

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Summary Statistics

 

In summary, Michigan has a major role in the tragedy of gun violence, injuries, and deaths sweeping the nation.

  • In Michigan, there were 909 murders in 1994; 72.5% were committed with a firearm.
  • 442 of these murders were committed by people aged 15 - 19.
  • In addition, there were 594 Michigan suicides and 29 accidental deaths by firearm.
  • Firearm deaths are second only to motor vehicle deaths as the major cause of injury-related deaths in Michigan.
  • The primary cause of spinal cord injuries in Michigan among all age groups is personal violence involving a handgun.
  • In 1994, there were 39 work-related homicides by firearm in Michigan; this was more than a third of all workplace homicides in the six Great Lakes States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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