Most people killed or wounded in stray-bullet shootings were unaware of events leading to the gunfire that caused their injuries, and nearly one-third of the victims were children and nearly half were female.
The study by Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center, examines mortality rates and other epidemiological aspects of stray-bullet shootings over a one-year period. It is published in the July issue of the Journal of Trauma and Acute CareSurgery.
"Stray-bullet shootings alter the nature of life in many American neighborhoods, creating fear and anxiety and prompting parents to keep children indoors and take other precautions," Wintemute said. "When we think about gun violence, we think about high-profile and tragic events like Virginia Tech or the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. But stray-bullet shootings affect entire communities every day, and there has been almost no research exploring them."
Unlike the risk pattern for violence in general, which typically affects young males, most victims of stray bullets were outside the 15-34 age range, and nearly half (44.8 percent) were females, the study found. Many of the people shot (40.7 percent) were at home at the time of the incident, and of these, most (68.2 percent) were indoors.