The Violence Policy Center just released a study on homicide rates in the African-American community. The report, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2008 Homicide Data, examined homicides across the nation where the victim was an African-American using 2008 data from FBI reports.
The study reports that Missouri leads the nation with the highest black homicide victimization rate. This is the number of homicides of African-Americans per 100,000 residents. Missouri is followed by Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee. At the bottom were states like North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and Utah.
The rates can be deceiving. For example, North Dakota is ranked last as it had no African-American homicide victims. Neighboring South Dakota which had only two homicides with black victims ranked 22nd. The low overall population of the state of South Dakota exaggerates the homicide rate.
What is also interesting in this report is that states with high African-American populations such as Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Georgia rank in the middle of the pack. These states also have much less restrictive gun laws than states like California which ranks 7th overall.
The report’s conclusion:
For blacks, like all victims of homicide, guns—usually handguns—are far and away the number one murder tool. Successful efforts to reduce America’s black homicide toll must put a focus on reducing access and exposure to firearms.
For the Violence Policy Center it is much easier to just blame an inanimate object than to look at the underlying causes. Nowhere in the report are actual underlying causes of crime like level of gang membership or poverty rate even considered. The Violence Policy Center had a chance to do some serious research on a serious issue. They didn’t because all they were looking for was another reason to blame the tool and not the criminal.