Christina M. Woods, Wichita Eagle, February 2, 2009
Kansas has the fourth-highest per capita rate of black homicide victims in the country, according to an analysis of FBI data by a national gun-control advocacy group.
It’s the first time in the three years the Violence Policy Center has released the study that Kansas has been in the top five. The center is based in Washington, D.C.
“This is a crisis that is devastating black teens and adults across our nation,” Josh Sugarmann, a study co-author and the center’s executive director, said in a statement. “The key role played by guns in black homicide victimization cannot be denied and must be addressed.”
The study, which analyzed unpublished FBI homicide data from 2006, also finds that firearms–namely handguns–are involved in the majority of homicides.
“A lot of times, victims and families just need a good strong support system or a mentorship–someone to model good behavior,” said [chaplain Merri] Reed, whose ministry provides assistance and channels resources to families affected by violence.
The study, released last week, calculates and compares black homicide victimization rates by dividing the number of black homicides by the number of black residents in the state using U.S. Census Bureau population statistics, then multiplying that figure by 100,000.
Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said the department annually analyzes local homicide statistics and finds that African-Americans typically lead homicide victims–and suspects.
Last year, African-Americans made up more than half of the city’s 35 homicide victims, according to police statistics. In 2007, black people made up 19 of the city’s 43 homicide victims.
In 2006, the year the national study focused on, blacks made up half of the city’s homicide victims. That year, black men alone were 10 of the year’s 26 homicide victims.
“The fact that you have a greater chance of being victim of part one crime because of your color or race, to me, something’s wrong with that picture,” Stolz said, “part one” referring to serious or violent crimes such as homicide, burglary, robbery, rape, vehicle theft, aggravated assault and larceny.
Breaking the cycle
Dennison Woods, owner of Eldridge Woods funeral home in Wichita, sees the scope of the problem first-hand when preparing services for families who have lost loved ones to violence.
Woods said too many young people–young men in particular–fall for the temptations of fast living, look for respect in the wrong places, or get caught up in other people’s problems.
Now you know
A new study ranks states by their rates of African-American homicide victimization.
Black homicide victimization rates
1. Pennsylvania, 36.86 per 100,000
2. Michigan, 33.4 per 100,000
3. Indiana, 32.65 per 100,000
4. Kansas, 32.47 per 100,000
5. Nevada, 32.26 per 100,000
[Editors Note: “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States,” by the Violence Policty Center, can be read or downloaded as a PDF file here.]
Monday, January 26, 2009
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x110
Pennsylvania Leads Nation in Per Capita Rate of Black Homicide Victimization
State’s Black Homicide Rate of 36.86 Per 100,000 is Nearly Seven Times National Overall Homicide Rate of 5.38 per 100,000
Washington, DC–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 annual study, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2006 Homicide Data, uses 2006 data–the most recent data available from the FBI–and ranks the 50 states according to their black homicide victimization rates. The study found overwhelmingly that firearms, usually handguns, were the weapon of choice in the homicides. This is the third year that the VPC has issued the report and the second time in three years that Pennsylvania has topped the ranking.
The top five states with each state’s corresponding black homicide victimization rate are: 1) Pennsylvania, 36.86 per 100,000; 2) Michigan, 33.40 per 100,000; 3) Indiana, 32.65 per 100,000; 4) Kansas, 32.47 per 100,000; and, 5) Nevada, 32.26 per 100,000.
Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director and study co-author states, “While Pennsylvania has the highest rate of black homicide victimization, this is a crisis that is devastating black teens and adults across our nation. The key role played by guns in black homicide victimization cannot be denied and must be addressed.”
For PENNSYLVANIA, the study found that in 2006:
* There were 490 black homicide victims, resulting in a homicide rate of 36.86 per 100,000. Of these, 441 were male and 49 were female.
* For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 87 percent of black victims (414 out of 475) were killed with guns. Of these, 90 percent (372 victims) were known to be killed with handguns. There were 26 victims killed with firearms where the type of gun was not stated. There were 26 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 17 victims killed by bodily force, and 8 victims killed by a blunt object.
* For homicides involving black victims for which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 85 percent of black victims (173 out of 204) were murdered by someone they knew. Thirty-one victims were killed by strangers.
* For homicides involving black victims for which the circumstances could be identified, 56 percent (166 out of 298) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 86 percent (143 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
For the entire UNITED STATES, the study found that in 2006:
* There were 7,425 black homicide victims in the United States. Of these, 6,383 (86 percent) were male, and 1,041 (14 percent) were female. Gender was not recorded for 1 victim.
* The homicide rate for black victims in the United States was 20.27 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide rate was 5.38 per 100,000 and the national homicide rate for whites was 3.14 per 100,000.
* For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 82 percent of black victims (5,722 out of 6,942) were killed with guns. Of these, 79 percent (4,501 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 671 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 258 victims killed by bodily force, and 175 victims killed by a blunt object.
* For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 74 percent of black victims (2,607 out of 3,502) were murdered by someone they knew. Eight hundred ninety-five victims were killed by strangers.
* For homicides involving black victims for which the circumstances could be identified, 69 percent (3,081 out of 4,490) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 56 percent (1,721 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender. Twelve percent (377 homicides) were reported to be gang-related. Forty-four percent of these (167 homicides) were in California, which may be in part due to more comprehensive reporting. In California, 45 percent of non-felony related homicides were reported to be gang-related.
The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.