Missouri Has Highest Rate of Black Homicide in the Nation -- For Third Year in a Row

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Here's a very unfortunate title for Missouri -- and it's one the state is officially holding on to for the third year in a row: No. 1 in "black homicide victimization." So says the Washington D.C-based research group Violence Policy Center, which released results this week of an annual study of homicide rates across the country.

What does it mean? The organization found that Missouri has the highest rate of black individuals falling victim to homicide at 33.86 deaths per 100,000 people.

"It's a shameful legacy," Josh Sugarmann, executive director, tells Daily RFT of these trends.

What's behind the devastating pattern?

Guns, Sugarmann tells us.

"The disproportionate effect of gun violence on African Americans in the United States is not a new story. We've seen it for decades," he says. "The fact that it is still ignored and not being addressed in a substantive and comprehensive way is really a national shame."

See Also:
- Map Confirms Murder Concentration; City Urges a Look on the Bright Side
- City's Homicide Total for 2012 Matches Previous Year

Here are the top ten states.

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Violence Policy Center

The study found that in 2010, which is the most recent data available from Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 255 black homicide victims in Missouri -- 231 male and 24 female.

For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 91 percent of black victims were killed by guns. And of those, 58 percent -- 128 victims -- were killed with handguns. There were fourteen victims killed with knives.

In the cases where there was information about the offender's relationship to the victim, 56 out of 79 were murdered by someone they knew; that means that at least 23 of these victims were killed by strangers.

Across the country, the vast majority of deaths were tied to gun violence with 83 percent shot and killed with firearms, primarily handguns -- a rate slightly lower than that of Missouri.

For perspective, Missouri's black homicide victimization rate is more than seven times the national overall homicide rate of 4.42 people per 100,000.

"This is a long ignored public-health crisis that is devastating black teens and adults and their families and communities where they live," says Sugarmann.

Continue for more of our interview with Josh Sugarmann and a copy of the full report.

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Hmmm.... This is shocking and disturbing. At first, I thought this boiled down to demographics (St. Louis City has a higher percentage of African Americans than Chicago or New York) and the fact that St. Louis is consistently one of the most violent cities in the country. I then looked at Detroit (the most violent city in the country last year), and 87% of their population is African American. Something doesn't add up.

I know that RFT posted a chart not too long ago showing the most violent areas in St. Louis (all low income, primarily black neighborhoods), and I'm wondering what can be done to stop this?

I don't think I've ever been able to figure out exactly why STL is as violent as it is. You have to wonder if there is anything that can be done to alleviate this issue.

I'm with @12judges, though. Something needs to be provided to allow underprivileged youth growing up in these neighborhoods a better way. I'll admit that I'm fairly ignorant as to how these neighborhoods work, but I do know that poverty and crime go hand in hand. I also know that it's really tough to shake poverty once it's gotten a grip on you.

References to back up my points above:

St. Louis City, Chicago, and New York demographics - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis#Demographicshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_New_York_Cityhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Chicago

Detroit Demographics and Violence - http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2012/10/18/detroit-tops-the-2012-list-of-americas-most-dangerous-cities/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit#Demographics


Is this really so bad? Blacks killing blacks. More dead blacks mean less taxes for welfare and incarceration.

Let them all kill each other.

Shaggs Smartsharkstudios
Shaggs Smartsharkstudios

Stop funding the drug war and quit using poor neighborhoods as a drop zone for drugs (I'm speaking to you DEA, CIA, FBI). Place all the money into vocational training centers and non-profit colleges we currently spend on SWAT teams and D.A.R.E. programs. End poverty and the problem fixes itself overnight.

Musiq Freaq
Musiq Freaq

More jobs and training is the only answer. No money.. prime reason for crime in these neighborhoods...simple.


I agree with 12judges in that socio-economic factors play a major role in gun violence. But I disagree about the availibility of guns. Guns are as readily available as dope in north St. Louis. The punk thugs who use them to kill,  buy, sell or trade guns on a daily basis. Many are stolen. Many have been used in crimes. When a gun is used in a violent crime, the shooter generally gets rid of the gun so he can't be linked to it. He then gets another and on and on. The Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department has made numerous public statements over the years regarding the availibility of guns and their impact on violent crimes and innocent victims. 

Barry Bean
Barry Bean

Clearly they need to take AR-15s away from law abiding citizens! That'd make a lot more sense than better policing in those communities, anti gang efforts, or economic incentives to create jobs.


As if these people (who by and large a known to one another) would not be killing each other if guns were not so readily available.  The murder rate in black communities is not a symptom of gun availibility, it is a symptom of cultural and socio-economic factors.  Sugarmann's argument falls flat on it's face once you realize that other demographics, regions, and entire nations with high rates of firearms ownership encounter nowhere near the level of firearms related homicide evident in the black community.  If his argument held water white males (the largest gun owning demographic), Alaskans and Texans, and the entire nation of Switzerland would be awash in firearms homicides.  They are not.  Violence, its glorification, and its prevalence as an accepted means of problem solving within certain sub-cultures is the real problem.  Solve it and the pro-gun/anti-gun debate is meaningless and moot.  Taking the easy path of blaming guns for bad decision making will not stop the blood from flowing in America's streets. 


Unbelievable the lack of concern for your fellow citizens, many of whom wish and pray daily in their blighted neighborhoods for a reprieve and solution to the bloodshed.  You are repulsive and so is your comment.


Thanks Kitty but the point I'm trying to make is that gun availibility is not the root cause of the problem.  You mention guns are as readily available as dope, and logically it would follow that if dope is so readily available guns will be as well regardless of law or legislative action.  As if the same people who deal drugs would be deprived of guns through legislative means or that the same underground industry supplying the nation with drugs could not be easily converted to do the same for guns.  These people will always have access to firearms.  The solution to the problem is to attack the root cause of community violence thereby making guns, legal or illegal, meaningless.  Gun availability is not the root cause and just because the SLPD makes a public statement doesn't make it so.

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