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Missouri Led Nation in Black Homicide Rate in 2016; New York Ranked No. 31

According to 2016 data reported by the Violence Policy Center, 87 percent of black homicide victims nationwide were killed with guns. File photo.

Data from 2016 showed that Missouri had the highest black homicide victimization rate in the nation.

It marked the third straight year that Missouri led the nation, according to the Violence Policy Center, a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury.

According to the analysis, Missouri had a rate of 46.21 black homicide victims per 100,000 population. The data was reported in Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2016 Homicide Data. The report is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Supplementary Homicide Report. The study details homicide rates for 2016, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data are available.

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, according to Violence Policy Center.

The FBI data include incidents reported as justifiable homicides of black victims killed by law enforcement, according to the Violence Policy Center. Nationwide, there were 116 such incidents reported in 2016. The data do 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.

New York ranked 31st, with 386 black homicide victims in 2018 and a rate of 11.02 per 100,000.

States with 10 or fewer black homicide victims were not included in the state rankings. The numbers and rates for Alabama and Florida were not available. Those states, along with Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming were not in the state rankings. However, the victims in those states were counted in the national total and rate.

In 2016, the national black homicide victimization rate was 20.44 per 100,000, and the overall national homicide victimization rate was 5.10 per 100,000. Nationwide, 87 percent of black homicide victims were killed with guns.

“The devastating and disproportionate impact homicide, almost always involving a gun, has on black men, boys, women, and girls in America is a national shame,” VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said in a news release announcing the study. “These deaths devastate families, traumatize communities, and should provoke an outcry for change. The goal of our research is to help educate the public and policymakers, spur action and aid community leaders already working to end this crisis.”

The Violence Policy Center began issuing this report in 2007, and Missouri has had among the 10 highest black homicide victimization rates every year.

The other states in the top 10, by rate per 100,000:
Wisconsin, 37.57; West Virginia, 36.86; Illinois, 36.40; Indiana, 31.93; Kentucky, 28.85; Michigan, 28.55; Tennessee, 28.41; Louisiana, 27.72; Pennsylvania, 27.50.

For the entire United States, the study reported that in 2016:

  • There were 7,756 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 20.44 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 5.10 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide victimization rate was 2.96 per 100,000.
  • Of the 7,756 black homicide victims, 6,748 were male, 1,003 were female, and five were of unknown sex. The homicide victimization rate for black male victims was 37.12 per 100,000. The homicide victimization rate for black female victims was 5.07 per 100,000.
  • For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 87 percent of black victims (6,505 out of 7,442) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 66 percent (4,319 victims) were killed with handguns.
  • For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 75 percent of black victims (2,297 out of 3,054) were killed by someone they knew. The number of victims killed by strangers was 757.
  • For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 71 percent (3,051 out of 4,315) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 48 percent (1,470 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

Studies have shown that individuals living in communities where violence is prevalent are at higher risk for 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 delivery of social services and changes in local and federal policies. For more information, see the July 2017 VPC study The Relationship Between Community Violence and Trauma: How Violence Affects Learning, Health, and Behavior.