Missouri Leads Nation in Black Homicides -- By a Long Shot

The Washington D.C. gun-control group Violence Policy Center released its annual report yesterday on African-American homicides across the nation. Once again, Missouri topped the rankings, beating its nearest competitor by eight percentage points.

The study -- which used the latest available FBI crime statistics from 2008 -- found that Missouri had 287 black homicide that year, for a victimization rate of 39.90 per 100,000 black residents. The other states rounding out the top 5 deadliest places for African-Americans were Pennsylvania, where 31 our of 100,000 black were murdered in 2008, followed by Indiana (28 per 100,000), Michigan (24.5 per 100,000) and Tennesse (22.59 per 100,000.)

The Associated Press notes that Missouri has been among the top 5 states for black homicides in four of the past five years and was No. 1 in 2008 and No. 2 in 2009.

According to the statistics, 86 percent of black homicides in Missouri occurred in either Kansas City or St. Louis. The average age of the victim was 31 and 10 percent of all victims were under the age of 18. Not surprisingly, male victims accounted for more than 85 percent of black murders in Missouri in 2008 and 87 percent of those people were killed with guns. Moreover, 78 percent were murdered by people they knew when an argument or feud escalated to violence.

The Violence Policy Center believes its report is one more reason to curb access and exposure to guns -- particularly handguns which were involved in at least half of Missouri's black homicides in 2008. Moreover, state and city leaders need to do more to address the issue of black murders. (Note: Here in St. Louis perhaps they could do that by not immediately dismissing those annual rankings rating us America's Most Dangerous City.

"While Missouri has the highest rate of black homicide victimization, across the nation this is a long-ignored crisis that is devastating black teens and adults," says VPC's executive director, Josh Sugarmann.