Objective: To examine whether gun assaults committed with semiautomatic pistols are more injurious and lethal than those committed with revolvers.
Setting: Jersey City, New Jersey from 1992 through 1996.
Methods: Using police records on fatal and non-fatal handgun assaults, t tests and χ2 tests were employed to determine if attacks with pistols result in more shots fired than those with revolvers, leading to more gunshot victims and more severely wounded victims.
Results: More shots were fired in attacks with pistols (average = 3.2 to 3.7) than in attacks with revolvers (average = 2.3 to 2.6). Although pistol use was unrelated to the probability that an incident resulted in any injury or death, it was associated with a 15% increase in the number of wounded victims in those cases in which people were shot (1.15 per pistol case, 1.0 per revolver case), implying that the total number of gunshot victims may have been 9.4% lower had pistols not been used in any attacks. Pistol use was not related to the number of wounds per gunshot victim.
Conclusions: The findings provide limited evidence that recent growth in the production and use of pistols has contributed to higher levels of gunshot victimizations. However, available data did not permit an assessment of whether the associations between gun types and assault outcomes are mediated by characteristics of incidents and actors.
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