Stray Bullets Injured Hundreds in One Year, Study Finds

More than 300 people in the United States were struck by stray bullets between March 2008 and February 2009, often from shootings unconnected to the victims, according to a new study by researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis. Published in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, the study calculated the frequency of stray-bullet shootings during an 11-month period – a phenomenon, according to researchers, that resulted in at least 317 injuries. Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis conducted the research, which was partially funded by the California Wellness Foundation and the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation. Using data collected from news alert services such as Google Alerts, in addition to GunPolicy.org archives, Wintemute and his colleagues tracked stories containing the term “stray bullet” for nearly one year, ultimately counting 284 shootings in which people were injured or killed by stray bullets. The study defines a stray-bullet shooting any instance in which a bullet escapes the immediate scene of the shooting and results in the injury of at least one person either by directly striking the victim or through associated “secondary mechanisms,” such as injuries sustained from glass shattered by a bullet.