Gun Crime Against 12-to-17-Year-Olds Supposedly Fell 95% from 1994 to 2010

That’s what the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports, based on National Crime Victimization Survey data: The rate was 11.4/1000 12-to-17-year-olds in 1994, and 0.6/1000 in 2010. (To be precise, the study spoke of “serious violent crime” — rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault — using firearms, but most firearm crime against someone [except for homicide, which is comparatively rare] would fall into one of these categories, so I just call it “gun crime.”) Of course, serious violent crime has generally fallen sharply from 1994 to 2010 (73% for adults, according to the study, and 77% for 12-to-17-year-olds), but not 20-fold.

On the other hand, I’m not sure whether there might be some measurement error here. The gun crime on which we have the most reliable statistics, homicide, showed no material change in this age group from 2002 to 2010, according to the CDC’s WISQARS database, yet the BJS report I mentioned above claims that the nonfatal gun crime rate against that group fell 4-fold from 2002 to 2010. Likewise CDC’s nonfatal gun assault injury rates for the group also seem roughly steady from 2001-02 to 2009-10, though the fluctuations from year to year make me wonder about the WISQARS nonfatal injury data quality.

So did the 95% decline happen, or is it the result of some measurement error? If it did happen, or to the extent some such decline happened, why did it happen? I have no idea. But it seemed like such a striking number that I thought it was worth noting. Thanks to Paul Milligan for the pointer.