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Examination of Crime Guns and Homicide in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1987-1998 (ICPSR 2895) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study examined spatial and temporal features of crime guns in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in order to ascertain how gun availability affected criminal behavior among youth, whether the effects differed between young adults and juveniles, and whether that relationship changed over time. Rather than investigating the general prevalence of guns, this study focused only on those firearms used in the commission of crimes. Crime guns were defined specifically as those used in murders, assaults, robberies, weapons offenses, and drug offenses. The emphasis of the project was on the attributes of crime guns and those who possess them, the geographic sources of those guns, the distribution of crime guns over neighborhoods in a city, and the relationship between the prevalence of crime guns and the incidence of homicide. Data for Part 1, Traced Guns Data, came from the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Gun trace data provided a detailed view of crime guns recovered by police during a two-year period, from 1995 to 1997. These data identified the original source of each crime gun (first sale to a non-FFL, i.e., a person not holding a Federal Firearms License) as well as attributes of the gun and the person possessing the gun at the time of the precipitating crime, and the ZIP-code location where the gun was recovered. For Part 2, Crime Laboratory Data, data were gathered from the local county crime laboratory on guns submitted by Pittsburgh police for forensic testing. These data were from 1993 to 1998 and provided a longer time series for examining changes in crime guns over time than the data in Part 1. In Parts 3 and 4, Stolen Guns by ZIP-Code Data and Stolen Guns by Census Tract Data, data on stolen guns came from the local police. These data included the attributes of the guns and residential neighborhoods of owners. Part 3 contains data from 1987 to 1996 organized by ZIP code, whereas Part 4 contains data from 1993 to 1996 organized by census tract. Part 5, Shots Fired Data, contains the final indicator of crime gun prevalence for this study, which was 911 calls of incidents involving shots fired. These data provided vital information on both the geographic location and timing of these incidents. Shots-fired incidents not only captured varying levels of access to crime guns, but also variations in the willingness to actually use crime guns in a criminal manner. Part 6, Homicide Data, contains homicide data for the city of Pittsburgh from 1990 to 1995. These data were used to examine the relationship between varying levels of crime gun prevalence and levels of homicide, especially youth homicide, in the same city. Part 7, Pilot Mapping Application, is a pilot application illustrating the potential uses of mapping tools in police investigations of crime guns traced back to original point of sale. NTC. It consists of two ArcView 3.1 project files and 90 supporting data and mapping files. Variables in Part 1 include date of manufacture and sale of the crime gun, weapon type, gun model, caliber, firing mechanism, dealer location (ZIP code and state), recovery date and location (ZIP code and state), age and state of residence of purchaser and possessor, and possessor role. Part 2 also contains gun type and model, as well as gun make, precipitating offense, police zone submitting the gun, and year the gun was submitted to the crime lab. Variables in Parts 3 and 4 include month and year the gun was stolen, gun type, make, and caliber, and owner residence. Residence locations are limited to owner ZIP code in Part 3, and 1990 Census tract number and neighborhood name in Part 4. Part 5 contains the date, time, census tract and police zone of 911 calls relating to shots fired. Part 6 contains the date and census tract of the homicide incident, drug involvement, gang involvement, weapon, and victim and offender ages. Data in Part 7 include state, county, and ZIP code of traced guns, population figures, and counts of crime guns recovered at various geographic locations (states, counties, and ZIP codes) where the traced guns first originated in sales by an FFL to a non-FFL individual. Data for individual guns are not provided in Part 7.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Traced Guns Data - Download All Files (1,107 KB)
Data:
DS2:  Crime Laboratory Data - Download All Files (5,631 KB)
DS3:  Stolen Guns by ZIP-Code Data - Download All Files (1,513 KB)
DS4:  Stolen Guns by Census Tract Data - Download All Files (1,402 KB)
DS5:  Shots Fired Data - Download All Files (3,812 KB)
DS6:  Homicide Data - Download All Files (942 KB)
Data:
DS7:  Pilot Mapping Application - Download All Files (2,482 KB)
Data:

Study Description

Citation

Cohen, Jacqueline, and Wilpen Gorr. EXAMINATION OF CRIME GUNS AND HOMICIDE IN PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, 1987-1998. ICPSR version. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University [producer], 2001. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2001. doi:10.3886/ICPSR02895.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (95-IJ-CX-0075)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   armed robbery, assault, criminality, drug law offenses, firearms, forensic sciences, gun control, gun ownership, gun registration, gun use, handguns, homicide, neighborhoods, public safety, weapons offenses

Geographic Coverage:   Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, United States

Date of Collection:  

  • 1995--1998

Unit of Observation:   Parts 1-5 and 7: Crime guns. Part 6: Homicide victims.

Universe:   Parts 1-5 and 7: Guns used in the commission of crime in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, between 1987 and 1998. Part 6: Homicide victims in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, between 1990 and 1995.

Data Types:   administrative records data (Parts 1-6)

Data Collection Notes:

(1) Part 7 is a PKZip archive that illustrates how select data from this project can be used with mapping software. The 92 files, including two project files, were created with ArcView 3.1. Users should extract this zipped archive into a directory called "C:\batf." Once the archive has been extracted onto the local drive, users should open the ArcView project file called batf-pgh-nij.apr to view the sample files. Additional information about this application can be found in the appendix to the codebook. (2) The user guide and codebook are provided by ICPSR as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   This study examined spatial and temporal features of crime guns in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in order to see how gun availability actually affected criminal behavior among youth, whether the effects differed between young adults and juveniles, and whether that relationship changed over time. Rather than investigating the general prevalence of guns, this study focused only on those firearms used in the commission of crimes. Crime guns were defined specifically as those used in murders, assaults, robberies, weapons offenses, and drug offenses. Guns that came into temporary police custody for health and safety reasons were not included in this study. The researchers focused on just one city in order to explore the gun-crime connection in rich detail, including variations across neighborhoods within a city. The emphasis of the project was on the attributes of crime guns and those who possess them, the geographic sources of those guns, the distribution of crime guns over neighborhoods in a city, and the relationship between the prevalence of crime guns and the incidence of homicide.

Study Design:   Data for Part 1 came from the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. The Pittsburgh police have traced all guns recovered by police through the Pennsylvania State Police and the NTC since the formation of a local firearm tracking unit in early 1994. The gun trace data originating from the Pittsburgh police provided a detailed view of crime guns recovered by police during a two-year period, from 1995 to 1997. These data identified the original source of each crime gun, as well as attributes of the gun and the person possessing the gun at the time of the precipitating crime, and the geographic location where the gun was recovered. For Part 2, data were gathered from the local county crime laboratory on guns submitted by the Pittsburgh police for forensic testing. These data were from 1993 to 1998 and provided a longer time series for examining changes in crime guns over time than the data in Part 1. Unlike the trace data, these data do not include any information about the source of the gun or attributes of the person who possessed the gun. More importantly, the two sources provided information on different aspects of guns. Data on the geographic locations where crime guns were recovered and their sources were available only for traced guns. The crime lab data, by contrast, were available for a longer time period (five years) than trace data (two years). The extent to which the two sources agreed with one another on the information that they shared provided some assurance about the validity of inferences derived from just a single source when the data did not overlap. In Parts 3 and 4, data on stolen guns came from the local police. These data included the attributes of the gun and residential neighborhoods of owners. Part 3 contains data from 1987 to 1996 organized by ZIP code, whereas Part 4 contains data from 1993 to 1996 organized by census tract. Part 5 contains the final indicator of crime gun prevalence for this study, which was 911 calls of incidents involving shots fired. These data provided vital information on both the geographic location and timing of these incidents. Shots-fired incidents not only captured varying levels of access to crime guns, but also variations in the willingness to actually use crime guns in a criminal manner. Part 6 contains homicide data for the city of Pittsburgh from 1990 to 1995. These data were used to examine the relationship between varying levels of crime gun prevalence and the risk of homicide, especially youth homicide, in the same city. It was expected that homicides involving youthful participants, especially youthful gang members, would be especially sensitive to changes in the prevalence of crime guns. Part 7 is a pilot application illustrating the potential uses of mapping tools in police investigations of crime guns traced back to original points of sale. It consists of two ArcView 3.1 project files and 90 supporting data and mapping files.

Data Source:

Parts 1 and 7: United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. National Tracing Center. Part 2: County crime laboratory. Parts 3-6: Pittsburgh Bureau of Police

Description of Variables:   Variables in Part 1 include date of manufacture and sale of the crime gun, weapon type, gun model, caliber, firing mechanism, dealer ZIP-code location, recovery date and ZIP-code location, age and state of residence of purchaser and possessor, and possessor role. Part 2 also contains gun type and model, as well as gun make, precipitating offense, police zone submitting the gun, and year the gun was submitted to the crime lab. Variables in Parts 3 and 4 include month and year gun was stolen, gun type, make, and caliber, and neighborhood of owner's residence. Part 3 contains owner ZIP code, and Part 4 contains census tract number and neighborhood name. Part 5 contains the date, time, and census tract of 911 calls relating to shots fired. Part 6 contains the date and census tract of the homicide incident, drug involvement, gang involvement, weapon, and victim and offender ages. Data in Part 7 include state, county, and ZIP code of traced guns, population figures, and counts of crime guns recovered at various geographic locations (states, counties, and ZIP code) where the traced guns first originated in sales by a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) to a non-FFL individual.

Response Rates:   Not applicable.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File UG2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CB2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File UG2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CB2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File UG2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CB2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File UG2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CB2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File UG2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CB2895.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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