Towards a National Definition and Database for Nonfatal Shooting Incidents

Natalie Kroovand Hipple
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After a decades-long decline, criminal gun violence has increased dramatically in many parts of the USA. Most victims survive their gunshot wounds; however, research and data collection focus primarily on fatal events. In fact, there is no official national definition of a nonfatal shooting incident, nor a repository of these data. This definitional oversight inhibits data-informed policy and practice. The current study involves two data sources: fatal and nonfatal shooting incidents recorded in an internal metropolitan police database and official Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) violent crime data. Shooting incidents in the police database were matched to incidents in the UCR data to determine how they were officially categorized and reported to the FBI. The majority (82.0%) of nonfatal shooting incidents in the UCR data were recorded as Aggravated Assault—Gun, while 16.5% were classified as a violent crime other than an Aggravated Assault—Gun. The UCR data were missing 1.5% of the nonfatal shooting incidents documented by the police database. Almost four-fifths (79.7%) of all Aggravated Assault—Gun incidents in the UCR data did not meet the suggested definition of a nonfatal shooting incident. Overall, official crime statistics are not a good data source for nonfatal shooting incidents. A holistic response to criminal gun violence requires comprehensive, valid, and reliable data collection on all shooting incidents, especially those incidents in which a person is injured by gunfire. Establishing a national definition for a nonfatal shooting incident is the first important step toward effective gun violence prevention and reduction.


Hipple, N.K. (2022). Towards a National Definition and Database for Nonfatal Shooting Incidents. Journal of Urban Health99: 361-372. doi: 10.1007/s11524-022-00638-2