It’s Hammer Time! – Weapons Most Often Used to Kill

Last year in the U.S., according to FBI stats, over 14,000 people were murdered. That’s more than the total number of residents who live in the wonderful city of Half Moon Bay, California, one of my favorite places. The seaside there is absolutely stunning, and the downtown is charming. But a murder rate that exceeds the population of any town, even tiny places such as Hartley, Delaware (population just shy of 75 residents according to is number that’s far too high. Even one homicide is one homicide too many.

Assault Rifle?

When the total number of murders is mentioned, many people, if not most, automatically think of “assault rifles” as the weapons that likely sent most of those 14,000 plus people to an early grave. But are their thoughts accurate, or are they merely brought on by other forces, such as what we see reported in news stories and social media, and books, TV, and/or film?

Well, here’s the reality.

Of the 14,123 people murdered in 2018, 297 were killed by the use of a rifle of any type, including dear old dad’s hunting rifle or the .22 rifles like Junior uses to plink tin can from the fence at Grandma’s farm.

Also, 235 folks were killed by shotgun blasts.

Handguns are the Murder Weapons of Choice

Handguns, not rifles, are the weapon of choice when it comes to killing. Actually, there’s no comparison. In 2018, 6603 people were shot and killed by criminals who used a handgun—revolvers or semi-automatics—to illegally end the life of another. I say “illegally” because these numbers do not reflect legal homicides (self-defense or the defense of others).

Knives/Edged Weapons

Just over 5 times the number of people killed by rifles—1515—were slain by killers wielding edged weapons, such as knives, daggers, axes, hatchets, swords, etc.

Hands and Feet

Remember all the times people demanded to know why deadly force was used to stop an unarmed person? Well, here’s the reason (in most cases). In 2018, 668 people were killed by attackers who used nothing more than their hands, fists, and/or feet as weapons of death. It’s true, hundreds of people are beaten or kicked to death each year.

Clubs, Hammers, and Other Blunt Objects

Believe or not, blunt items such as hammers, bricks, frying pans, baseball bats, etc. were used to kill more times than were the total number of all rifles used to commit murder. Yes, a whopping 443 people were slain by people swinging items such as hammers and baseball bats.

Rounding out the 2018 Murder Weapon Chart Were:

Asphyxiation – 90

Strangulation – 70

Narcotics – 78

Fire – 72

Drowning – 9

Poison – 5

Explosives – 4

And the ever popular “Pushing or throwing someone out of a window” – 4.

Of course, there were a variety of other murder weapon categories, but those listed above are the most popular among killers.

I guess if there’s a point to be made in all of this, it would be that when seeking out the perfect murder weapon killers tend to reach for items that are most convenient to them, and that may not be a firearm. After all, the concrete garden gnome in the backyard can kill someone just as a dead as would a rifle.

*This post is intended as a means to provide factual information. As always, discussions related to gun control, race, religion, politics, or other hot-button issues are not permitted. I welcome comments and questions, but let’s leave the other for places/sites other than here. Thanks!

5 replies
  1. Patti Phillips
    Patti Phillips says:

    Vegetable can lid? Good grief. I’d suggest the spouse keeping cans out of the kitchen of a crazed housewife in the story, but we still have knives and frying pans to deal with. Thanks for all the details to help us keep our work authentic. 🙂

  2. Jacqueline Vick
    Jacqueline Vick says:

    Thank you for the information! As always, you are a mystery writer’s best friend. I can’t tell you how many fictional deaths I’ve come up with while reading your blog. 🙂

    • Lee Lofland
      Lee Lofland says:

      There are many, Jenni – sharpened vegetable can lids, pieces of plastic, glass shards, frying pan, rocks, scissors, tree branch, honing/sharpening tool from a kitchen knife set, Civil War sword, to name a few.

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