Being black in Louisiana is dangerous business according to a new analysis from the Violence Policy Center.
Released earlier this month, the study, titled “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States,” takes a look at 2012 homicide data submitted by local law enforcement agencies throughout the country to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
According to the study’s findings, Louisiana has one of the highest black homicide rates in the nation, coming in at number five overall.
From the study:
In 2012, the national black homicide victimization rate was 18.03 per 100,000. For that year, Missouri ranked first as the state with the highest black homicide victimization rate. Its rate of 34.98 per 100,000 was nearly double the national average for black homicide victimization.
Blacks in the United States are disproportionately affected by homicide. For the year 2012 blacks represented 13 percent of the nation’s population, yet accounted for 50 percent of all homicide victims.
According to the SHR data, 17 states had a black homicide victimization rate higher than the national per capita rate of 18.03 per 100,000.
And Louisiana is among those states where the black victimization rate exceeds the national average with 384 homicides in 2012, which is equal to a homicide rate of 25.27 per 100,000. That puts Louisiana at number five on the Violence Policy Center’s top 10 list of states with the highest victimization rates for black citizens.
And here’s a more in depth look at the study’s findings on Louisiana’s black victims:
• Number of homicides: 384
• Homicide Rate per 100,000: 25.75 percent
• Age: 30 victims were less than 18 (8 percent), 6 victims were 65 or older (2 percent). Average age was 29.
• Gender: Of the 384 victims: 340 were male and 44 were female
• Most Common Weapons: For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 87 percent of victims (324 out of 373) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 92 percent (299 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 4 victims killed with firearms, type not stated. There were 22 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 12 victims killed by bodily force, and 8 victims killed by a blunt object.
• Victim/Offender Relationship: For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 82 percent of victims (113 out of 137) were killed by someone they knew. Twenty-four victims were killed by strangers.
• Circumstance: For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 60 percent (56 out of 94) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 77 percent (43 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
While it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact cause for Louisiana’s overwhelmingly high numbers of black homicides — so many factors play into this issue, ranging from the historical to the socio-economic — one major contributor, according to the Violence Policy Center, has been the proliferation of firearms. And as the study notes, given its conclusions, this issue should be seen as a crisis of national proportions:
The devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis that should be a top priority for policymakers to address. An important part of ending our gun violence epidemic will involve reducing homicides in the African-American community.
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, like America’s homicide toll as a whole, must put a focus on reducing access and exposure to firearms.
For a look at the Violence Policy Center’s full analysis, click here. And below are the 10 states with the highest victimization rates of black citizens in 2012:
#1 — Missouri
Number of homicides = 247
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 34.98
#2 — Nebraska
Number of homicides = 31
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 34.93
#3 — Michigan
Number of homicides = 492
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 34.77
#4 — Pennsylvania
Number of homicides = 452
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 31.02
#5 — Louisiana
Number of homicides = 384
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 25.75
#6 — Indiana
Number of homicides = 157
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 25.48
#7 — Oklahoma
Number of homicides = 73
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 25.04
#8 — Wisconsin
Number of homicides = 91
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 24.38
#9 — California
Number of homicides = 585
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 23.25
#10 — Tennessee**
Number of homicides = 246
Homicide rate per 100,000 = 22.40
Number of homicides: 6,565
Homicide Rate per 100,000: 18.03