BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

clear image
Home  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Get notifications  |  Help  |  A-Z Topic List
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
clear image
Home  | Publication & Product Detail
Publication Firearm Use by Offenders

Caroline Wolf Harlow, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics

November 4, 2001    NCJ 189369

Describes firearm use of State and Federal prison inmates. Data are from the Surveys of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities. These surveys of nationally-representative samples of prison inmates in 1997 asked inmates about their use of firearms during their current offense. Topics of this BJS Special Report include types of firearms used, characteristics of inmates using firearms, why and where inmates used their firearms, and where they obtained their firearms.


  • During the offense that brought them to prison, 15% of State inmates and 13% of Federal inmates carried a handgun, and about 2%, a military-style semiautomatic gun.
  • On average, State inmates possessing a firearm received sentences of 18 years, while those without a weapon had an average sentence of 12 years.
  • Among prisoners carrying a firearm during their crime, 40% of State inmates and 56% of Federal inmates received a sentence enhancement because of the firearm.

Press Release
Full report (PDF 120K)
ASCII file (47K)
Spreadsheet (Zip format 39K)
Codebooks and Datasets
To order paper version

Help for using BJS products

About the Source Data
Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities (SISCF)

To cite this product, use the following link:

View All Publications and Products

Back to Top