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African-American homicides remain at alarmingly high rate

  • Written by George Curry

guns-600WASHINGTON – As the nation continues to ponder possible solutions to curb carnage that results from the easy accessibility to firearms, nowhere is the loss of lives from guns greater than in the African-American community.

According to "Black Homicide in the United States: An Analysis of 2009 Homicide Data," report by the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., the African-American homicide rate in the year studied was more than six times that of whites.

The report, published last January, stated, "According to the FBI SHR (Supplementary Homicide Report) data, in 2009, there were 6,505 black homicide victims in the United States. The homicide rate among black victims in the United States was 17.90 per 100,000. For that year, the overall national homicide rate was 4.76 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide rate was 2.92 per 100,000."

There were also some stark differences when the figures were broken down by gender.

"Of the 6,505 black homicide victims, 5,576 (86 percent) were male, and 928 (14 percent) were female. In one case, the gender of the victim was unknown. The homicide rate for black male victims was 32.14 per 100,000....For white male homicide victims it was 4.26 per 100,000," a rate seven times less  than that of black males.

African-American females were three times more likely to be homicide victims than white females. The rate of African-American women was 4.89 per 100,000 compared with 1.61 for white women.

The average age of African-American homicide victims in 2009 was 30 years old. Eighty-two percent of the African-American victims were shot and killed with guns – 74 percent (3,723) were killed with handguns.

"For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 72 percent of black victims (2,271) out of 3,134) were murdered by someone they knew. Eight hundred sixty-three victims were killed by strangers."

Another study published in September by the Violence Policy Center, titled "When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2010 Homicide Data," observed: "A woman must consider the risks of having a gun in her home, whether she is in a domestic violence situation or not. While two thirds of women who own guns acquired them 'primarily for protection against crime,' the results of a California analysis show that 'purchasing a handgun provides no protection against homicide among women and is associated with an increase in their risk for intimate partner homicide.'

"A 2003 study about the risks of firearms in the home found that females living with a gun in the home were nearly three times more likely to be murdered than females with no gun in the home. Finally, another study reports, women who were murdered were more likely, not less likely, to have purchased a handgun in the three years prior to their deaths, again invalidating the idea that a handgun has a protective effect against homicide."

The September report noted, "The disproportionate burden of fatal and nonfatal violence borne by black females has almost always been overshadowed by the roll violence has taken on black males."

It stated, "Compared to a black male, a black female is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger. Where the relationship could be determined, 94 percent of black females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents knew their killers (414 out of 442). Nearly 15 times as many black females were murdered by a male they knew (414 victims) than were killed by male strangers (28 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2010.

"Of black victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent (267 out of 414) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Ninety-three percent (463 out of 499) of the homicides of black females were intra-racial."

The January study on African-American homicides by the Violence Policy Center provided a state-by-state breakdown of African-American homicide rates.

"Missouri ranked first as the state with the highest black homicide victimization rate," the report stated. "Its rate of 34.72 per 100,000 was nearly double the national average for black homicide victims."

Following Missouri, in order, were: Michigan (30.21 per 100,000), Pennsylvania (28.30), Oklahoma (27.96), Louisiana (26.33), Indiana (25.84), Tennessee (23.01), Wisconsin (22.71), California (22.33) and Nevada (21.06).

Although other states had a high number of African-American homicides – Maryland (331), Georgia (350), Illinois (360), New York (439), Texas (450) and California (548) – their rate of homicides did not land them among the top 10.

"Blacks in the United States are disproportionately affected by homicide. For the year 2009, blacks represented 13 percent of the nation's population, yet accounted for 47 percent of all homicide victims," the report stated.

"...(The) devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities."

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