For Immediate Release

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Murder Rate for Black Americans is Four Times the National Average

Study Finds Four Out of Five Black Homicide Victims Were Killed With Guns

WASHINGTON - Black Americans are four times more likely to be murdered than the national average, and four out of five black homicide victims are killed with guns, according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study finds the black homicide victimization rate in 2011 was 17.51 per 100,000, while the overall national rate was 4.44 per 100,000. The national homicide victimization rate for white Americans was 2.64 per 100,000.

The annual VPC study, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2011 Homicide Data,is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). The study refers to homicide rates in 2011, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available. This is the eighth year the VPC has released the study.

Nationwide, there were 6,309 black homicide victims in 2011. For homicides in which the weapons used could be identified, 82 percent of black homicide victims (4,949 out of 6,022) were shot and killed with guns. Among the victims killed with guns, 77 percent were killed with handguns.

The study also ranks the states according to their black homicide victimization rates. For 2011, Nebraska led the nation in the rate of black homicide victimization with a rate of 34.43 per 100,000.

 “Gun violence is a public health crisis that touches all Americans, but the impact on African Americans is especially devastating,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “This report should be a wake-up call for our elected officials to address the disproportionately high homicide victimization rate among black men and women. The longer we wait to act, the more lives will be lost.”

Nationwide, the study finds that in 2011:

·         Of the 6,309 black homicide victims in the United States, 5,452 were male, 854 were female, and 3 were of unknown gender.

·         The homicide rate for black male victims was 31.67 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall homicide rate for male victims was 7.13 per 100,000. For white male victims, the homicide rate was 3.85 per 100,000.

·         The homicide rate for black female victims was 4.54 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall homicide rate for female victims was 1.81 per 100,000. For white female victims, the homicide rate was 1.45 per 100,000.

·         Among the 82 percent of black homicide victims who were shot and killed with guns, 77 percent (3,824 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 868 victims killed with firearms where the type of gun was not stated. There were 644 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 221 killed by bodily force, and 130 victims killed by a blunt object.

·         Four hundred eighty-seven black homicide victims (8 percent) were less than 18 years old and 100 victims (2 percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 30 years old.

·         For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 73 percent of black victims (2,138 out of 2,928) were murdered by someone they knew. Seven hundred ninety victims were killed by strangers.

·         For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 70 percent (2,540 out of 3,652) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 58 percent (1,475 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

The 10 states with the highest black homicide victimization rates in 2011 were:


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Rank   State            Black Homicide Rate Per 100,000


1          Nebraska        34.43

2          Missouri           33.38

3          Michigan         31.54

4          Pennsylvania  29.02

5          Oklahoma       25.51

6          Louisiana         25.30

7          Kansas            24.97

8          Wisconsin        23.22

9          West Virginia   22.79

10        North Dakota  21.99

The full study is available at>blackhomicide14.pdf.


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The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.

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