For Release: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
93 Percent of Black Homicide Victims in Missouri were Killed with Guns
Washington, DC — Missouri has the highest black homicide victimization rate in the nation with a rate of 46.24 per 100,000, which is nearly two and half times the national black homicide victimization rate and 10 times the overall homicide rate nationwide, according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).
The annual study, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2015 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 It is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR).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 2015, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available. This is the 12th year the Violence Policy Center has released the study. To see past editions of the study, click here. To see a companion study that focuses on the Great Lakes states, click here.
“Each day in America, the number of black homicide victims exceeds the toll in the Parkland, Florida mass shooting. And just like Parkland and other mass shootings, these deaths devastate families, traumatize whole communities, and should provoke an outcry for change. The devastating and disproportionate impact homicide, almost always involving a gun, has on black men, boys, women, and girls in America is an ongoing national crisis. We hope our research will help educate the public and policymakers, spur action, and aid community leaders already working to end this grave injustice,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann.
“The daily toll of gun violence in communities of color is a major failing by our elected officials and society. No one law is going to end gun violence in America, but this report demonstrates the urgency to research and address why black men are needlessly dying at such elevated rates. In addition to closing loopholes in our current gun laws, we must invest in community-based prevention and collaborative policing programs,” states Nick Wilson, interim national director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence.
In 2015, the national black homicide victimization rate was 18.68 per 100,000, and the overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.62 per 100,000. Nationwide, 86 percent of black homicide victims were killed with guns.
The 10 states with the highest black homicide victimization rates in 2015 are detailed in the table below.
For MISSOURI, the study finds that in 2015:
· Of the 332 black homicide victims, 295 were male and 37 were female.
· Twenty-one black homicide victims (6 percent) were less than 18 years old and 4 victims (1 percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 29 years old.
· When the weapon used could be identified, 93 percent of the black homicide victims (301 out of 325) were killed with guns. Of these, 52 percent (158 victims) were killed with handguns.
· For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 79 percent of black homicide victims (82 out of 104) were killed by someone they knew. Twenty-two were killed by strangers.
· For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 52 percent (66 out of 128) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 85 percent (56 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
For the entire UNITED STATES, the study finds that in 2015:
· There were 7,014 black homicide victims in the United States that year. Blacks represented 13 percent of the U.S. population, yet accounted for 51 percent of all homicide victims.
· The black homicide victimization rate in the United States was 18.68 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.62 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide victimization rate was 2.67 per 100,000.
· Of the 7,014 black homicide victims, 6,152 were male and 862 were female. The homicide victimization rate for black male victims was 34.21 per 100,000. The homicide victimization rate for black female victims was 4.41 per 100,000.
· For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 86 percent of black victims (5,756 out of 6,716) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 71 percent (4,062 victims) were killed with handguns.
· For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 75 percent of black victims (2,211 out of 2,933) were killed by someone they knew. The number of victims killed by strangers was 722.
· For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 70 percent (2,829 out of 4,033) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 51 percent (1,432 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
In addition, individuals living in communities where violence is prevalent are at higher risk for a broad range of negative health and behavior outcomes. An increased understanding of how trauma resulting from community violence influences development, health, and behavior can lead to improvements in the way many social services are delivered as well as policy changes at the local and federal levels. For more information, see the July 2017 VPC study The Relationship Between Community Violence and Trauma: How Violence Affects Learning, Health, and Behavior (http://vpc.org/studies/trauma17.pdf).
The FBI data includes incidents reported as justifiable homicides of black victims killed by law enforcement. Nationwide, there were 121 such incidents reported in 2015. The data does not specifically identify killings by police that are not ruled justifiable. In December 2015, the FBI announced that it would dramatically expand its data collection on violent police encounters by 2017. In October 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice outlined a plan to improve the collection of law enforcement use of force data.
The rate of black homicide victimization is calculated 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 http://vpc.org/studies/blackhomicide18.pdf.
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
States United to Prevent Gun Violence (https://ceasefireusa.org/) is a grassroots network of 32 state affiliates working to make our communities and families safer.