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DOJ study links juvenile homicide rate to gun access laws

A new study says easier access to firearms contributed to a rise in homicide and suicide among young people from 1987 to 1993  

March 7, 2000
Web posted at: 12:10 p.m. EST (1710 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Easier access to firearms contributed to a huge rise in the number of U.S. homicides and suicides among juveniles from 1987 to 1993, according to a new Justice Department study released by the White House.

The report, released Tuesday, said the rate of juvenile homicide increased 65 percent from 1987 to 1993. In 1993 alone, nearly 1,800 juveniles died in firearms-related homicide, the highest number on record.

But during the following years, from 1993 to 1997, the number of juvenile homicides and suicides dropped, according to the study, which credited the decline in part on tighter laws regulating access to firearms.

Even so, during that same period, more than half of all juvenile homicides involved a firearm. And in 1997, slightly fewer than 1,200 juveniles died in firearms-related homicides, the study said.

"The recent decline in firearm-related juvenile homicides and suicides is encouraging and reinforces the need to remain vigilant in keeping handguns and other weapons out of the hands of children," said Shay Bilchik, administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The study also said that from 1987 to 1997, homicides among juveniles age 15 to 17 were more likely to involve a firearm than were homicides of adults.

Between 1980 to 1997, three out of four homicides involving juveniles age 12 or older were committed with a firearm, the report said. Also during this period, male juveniles were twice as likely as females to die as a result of gun homicide, according to the report.

The study analyzed FBI homicide data from 1980 to 1997 to assess the role of firearms in juvenile violence. The Clinton administration used the data to reinforce its message that Congress should pass more gun control laws in an attempt to reduce firearms-related violence.

White House Correspondent Major Garrett contributed to this report.

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Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools
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