For the third time in four years, Pennsylvania leads the nation in the rate of black homicide victimization. According to unpublished 2007 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data (the most recent available), the Keystone State's black homicide victimization rate of 36.36 Per 100,000 is nearly seven times the national overall homicide rate of 5.30 per 100,000.
This is the fourth year that my organization, the Violence Policy Center, has issued the study Black Homicide Victimization in the United States and the third time that Pennsylvania has ranked first. Additional states with black homicide victimization rates that place them in the top five are: Missouri at number two with a rate of 34.82 per 100,000; Indiana at number three with a rate of 30.89 per 100,000; and, Nevada and Wisconsin tied at number four with a rate of 29.83 per 100,000
As in past years, the study found overwhelmingly that firearms, usually handguns, were the weapon of choice in the homicides.
For the entire United States, the study found:
- There were 7,387 black homicide victims in the United States. Of these, 6,345 (86 percent) were male, and 1,042 (14 percent) were female.
Stating that "the devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities," the study concludes that 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 to firearms."