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Statistics Spotty On Oregon Gun Crime

President Barack Obama issued 23 executive actions Wednesday aimed at stopping gun violence.  Measuring their effect in this state could be challenging, however, because gun statistics in Oregon are spotty.

One of the main ways the federal government keeps an eye on crime is the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Each year, cities, counties, states and tribes can send their crime data to the FBI. But it’s voluntary. 

Sergeant Pete Simpson of the Portland Police says his agency includes crimes like murder, rape and assault. They don’t include whether guns were involved.

“It doesn’t necessarily get down to the details of were firearms used in these cases,” Simpson says. “That’s a different statistical tracking, if you will. And each city kind of does things differently.”

Some of the most comprehensive numbers on firearms come not from law enforcement, but medical examiners. In 2010 for example, the Oregon Health Authority vital statistics report shows 458 Oregonians died by firearm.  The vast majority were suicides, 59 were homicides and 14 were due to the actions of law enforcement agents on the job. 

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