The number of U.S. homicides has been falling for two decades, but America has become no less violent. The reported number of people treated for gunshot attacks from 2001 to 2011 has grown by nearly half.
"Did everybody become a lousy shot all of a sudden? No," said Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, a union that represents about 330,000 officers. "The potential for a victim to survive a wound is greater than it was 15 years ago."
After a steady decline through the 1990s, the annual number of homicides zigzagged before resuming a decline in 2007, falling from 16,929 that year to an estimated 14,722 in 2010, according to FBI crime data.
At the same time, medical data and other surveys in the U.S. show a rising number of serious injuries from assaults with guns and knives. The estimated number of people wounded seriously enough by gunshots to require a hospital stay, rather than treatment and release, rose 47% to 30,759 in 2011 from 20,844 in 2001, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program.
Mortality rates of gunshot victims, meanwhile, have fallen, according to research performed for The Wall Street Journal by the Howard-Hopkins Surgical Outcomes Research Center, a joint venture between Howard University and Johns Hopkins University. In 2010, 13.96% of U.S. shooting victims died, almost two percentage points lower than in 2007.
The Wall Street Journal