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Violence Policy Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 29, 2007
10:48 AM

CONTACT: Violence Policy Center
Marty Langley (202) 822-8200 x109

 
Pennsylvania Leads Nation in Per Capita Rate of Black Homicide Victimization
State's Black Homicide Rate of 29.52 Per 100,000 is Six Times National Overall Homicide Rate of 4.86 per 100,000
 

WASHINGTON - January 29 - Pennsylvania leads the nation in the rate of black homicide victimization according to a new analysis of unpublished Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2004 Homicide Data, uses 2004 data—the most recent data available from the FBI—and is the first analysis to rank the 50 states according to their black homicide rates. The study found overwhelmingly that firearms, usually handguns, were the weapon of choice in the homicides.

The top 10 states with each state's corresponding black homicide victimization rates are: 1) Pennsylvania, 29.52 per 100,000; 2) Louisiana, 29.48 per 100,000; 3) Indiana, 29.30 per 100,000; 4) California, 28.95 per 100,000; 5) Missouri, 28.63 per 100,000; 6) Michigan, 28.27 per 100,000; 7) Maryland, 24.64 per 100,000; 8) Minnesota, 24.45 per 100,000; 9) Nevada, 23.67 per 100,000; and, 10) Arizona, 21.54 per 100,000.

The study warns that "the toll that homicide exacts on black teens and young adults in America, both male and female, is disproportionate, disturbing, and undeniable" and concludes, "As efforts are made to reduce America's black homicide victimization toll, the unique facilitating role of firearms cannot be ignored."

For PENNSYLVANIA, the study found that in 2004:

  • There were 398 black homicide victims, resulting in a homicide rate of 29.52 per 100,000. Of these, 348 were male and 50 were female.

  • For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 86 percent of victims (335 out of 389) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 81 percent (273 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 48 victims killed with firearms, type not stated. There were 25 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 7 victims killed by bodily force, and 9 victims killed by a blunt object.

  • For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 79 percent of victims (130 out of 165) were murdered by someone they knew. Thirty-five victims were killed by strangers.

  • For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 51 percent (146 out of 285) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 77 percent (113 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

For the entire UNITED STATES, the study found that in 2004:

  • There were 6,644 black homicide victims in the United States. Of these, 5,629 (85 percent) were male, and 1,012 (15 percent) were female. Gender was not recorded for 3 victims.

  • The homicide rate among black victims in the United States was 18.71 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide rate was 4.86 per 100,000 and the national homicide rate for whites was 2.97 per 100,000.

  • For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 79 percent of victims (5,032 out of 6,369) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 80 percent (4,047 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 698 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 316 victims killed by bodily force, and 212 victims killed by a blunt object.

  • In the top 10 states combined, for homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 84 percent of victims (2,407 out of 2,874) were shot and killed with guns.

  • For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 74 percent of victims (2,360 out of 3,194) were murdered by someone they knew. Eight hundred and thirty-four victims were killed by strangers.

  • For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 70 percent (2,769 out of 3,977) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 60 percent (1,661 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender. Twelve percent (344 homicides) were reported to be gang-related. The bulk of these (224 homicides) were in California, which may be in part due to more comprehensive reporting.

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