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Research Letter
August 3, 2011

Stray Bullet Shootings in the United States

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Violence Prevention Research Program, University of California, Davis, Sacramento (gjwintemute@ucdavis.edu).

JAMA. 2011;306(5):491-492. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1066

To the Editor: Stray bullet shootings create fear and insecurity in affected communities1-3; entire populations have been advised to remain indoors at times of high risk.4 No nationwide information on these shootings is available.

We defined a stray bullet as having escaped the sociogeographic space or perimeter customarily set by the circumstances surrounding the firing of the gun from which it came, and cases as shooting events that involved at least 1 stray bullet injury to a person: a gunshot wound or injury by secondary mechanism. Cases could arise from violence, shooting sports, celebratory gunfire,4 or other activity. We included bystander shootings arising from violence if the bystander had no active role and was not targeted intentionally, shootings in which persons were injured by shooters targeting structures, and shootings from unintended gunfire when the shooter and the person shot were not the same person. We excluded shootings in which persons were targeted at random but shot intentionally.