For Release: Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Additional Contact: Cathie Whittenburg
States United to Prevent Gun Violence
State’s black homicide victimization rate is far above national average, 87 percent of victims killed with guns
Washington, DC — Missouri leads the nation in the rate of black homicide victimization with a rate of 34.98 per 100,000, nearly two times the national black homicide victimization rate and more than seven times the overall homicide rate nationwide, according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).
The annual VPC study, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2012 Homicide Data, ranks the states according to their black homicide victimization rates. It is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). The study details homicide rates for 2012, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available.
This is the ninth year the VPC has released the study. Missouri’s black homicide victimization rate was the highest in the nation for four of the past five years.
In Missouri, there were 247 black homicide victims in 2012, resulting in a homicide rate of 34.98 per 100,000. That year, the national black homicide rate was 18.03 per 100,000, and the overall national homicide rate was 4.50 per 100,000.
For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 87 percent of the black homicide victims in Missouri were shot and killed with guns. Nationwide, 84 percent of black homicide victims were killed with guns.
The study warns: “The devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities.”
“America’s gun violence epidemic affects everyone, but it has a disproportionate impact on black men and women,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Gun violence destroys lives, tears families apart, and traumatizes entire communities — and too many elected officials have ignored this ongoing crisis. It is time for action.”
“With continuing dysfunction in Washington, we call on state legislators to address this national emergency,” says Cathie Whittenburg, communications director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence. “We cannot call ourselves a moral nation yet tolerate losing 6,565 black men and women to homicide in one year.”
The 10 states with the highest black homicide victimization rates in 2012 were:
For MISSOURI, the study finds that in 2012:
- Of the 247 black homicide victims, 207 were male and 40 were female.
- Twenty-three black homicide victims (9 percent) were less than 18 years old. The average age was 29 years old.
- When the weapon used could be identified, 87 percent of the black homicide victims (212 out of 243) were killed with guns. Of these, 53 percent (113 victims) were killed with handguns.
- For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 73 percent of black homicide victims (70 out of 96) were killed by someone they knew. Twenty-six victims were killed by strangers.
- For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 58 percent (63 out of 109) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 76 percent (48 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
For the entire UNITED STATES, the study finds that in 2012:
- There were 6,565 black homicide victims in the United States. Blacks represented 13 percent of the nation’s population, yet accounted for 50 percent of all homicide victims.
- The black homicide victimization rate in the United States was 18.03 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.50 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide victimization rate was 2.65 per 100,000.
- Of the 6,565 black homicide victims, 5,708 were male, 856 were female, and 1 was of unknown gender. The homicide rate for black male victims was 32.78 per 100,000. The homicide rate for female black victims was 4.51 per 100,000.
- For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 84 percent of black victims (5,276 out of 6,289) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 76 percent (4,015 victims) were killed with handguns.
- For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 70 percent of black victims (2,075 out of 2,946) were killed by someone they knew. The number of victims killed by strangers was 871.
- For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 69 percent (2,747 out of 3,954) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 52 percent (1,427 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
The study calculates black homicide victimization rates by dividing the number of black homicide victims by the black population, and multiplying the result by 100,000. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence.
The full study is available at vpc.org/studies/blackhomicide15.pdf
States United to Prevent Gun Violence (www.CeasefireUSA.org) is a national non-profit organization working to support state-based gun violence prevention groups and help build new state-led organizations. States United believes that all Americans deserve to live in a country free from the fear, threat, and devastation caused by gun violence.