Excerpt from an article...link for whole article at bottom.
The overall percentage decline in nonfatal and fatal firearm-related injury rates in the U.S. population from 1993 through 1997 is consistent with a 21% decrease in violent crime during the same time (4). Since 1950, unintentional fatal firearm-related injury rates have declined. NEISS data also suggest a decline since 1993 in the rate of nonfatal unintentional firearm-related injuries treated in hospital EDs. Most of these nonfatal injuries occurred among males aged 15-44 years, were self-inflicted, and were associated with hunting, target shooting, and routine gunhandling (i.e., cleaning, loading, and unloading a gun) (5). Additional investigation should focus on factors that may have contributed to the decrease, such as gun safety courses and information campaigns, the proportion of the population that uses guns for
recreational purposes, and legislation.
Numerous factors may have contributed to the decrease in both nonfatal and fatal assaultive firearm-related injury rates. Possible contributors include improvements in economic conditions; the aging of the population; the decline of the crack cocaine market; changes in legislation, sentencing guidelines, and law-enforcement practices; and improvements associated with violence prevention programs (6). However, the importance and relative contribution of each of these factors have not been determined, and the reasons are not known for the declines in firearm-related suicide and suicide attempt rates.
This analysis also indicates that using NEISS is an effective means for tracking national estimates of nonfatal firearm-related injuries. Quarterly nonfatal firearm-related injury rates based on NEISS data track closely with firearm-related death rates based on death-certificate data. For males aged 15-24 years, a known high-risk group for assaultive injury (2,3), both fatal and nonfatal quarterly assaultive firearm-related rates show cyclical seasonal trends over the 5-year study period, with the highest rates occurring during the summer months.
A limitation of NEISS is that it is not designed to provide data to examine trends at the state and local level. State and local data are needed for jurisdictions to design and evaluate firearm-related injury-prevention programs. CDC has collaborated with states and communities to design and implement successful firearm-related injury surveillance and data systems (7), which can serve as models for future efforts.
Although firearm-related injuries have declined substantially across all intent categories and population subgroups, recent school-related shootings, multiple shootings, and homicide-suicide incidents are reminders that firearm-related injuries remain a serious public health concern. Even with the significant declines in nonfatal and fatal
firearm-related injury rates, approximately 96,000 persons in the United States sustained gunshot wounds in 1997. However, results from the Youth Risk Behavior
Survey also indicate a decline in violence-related behavior among high school students, including a 25% decline in carrying guns on school property and a 9% decline in engaging in a physical fight on school grounds during this 5-year period (8 ). Prevention efforts should continue to design, implement, and evaluate public health, criminal justice, and education programs to further reduce firearm-related injuries in the United States.