ST. LOUIS — African Americans in Missouri die at a higher homicide rate than any other state in the nation, according to a study released Wednesday by the Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy group.
The analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based center draws on FBI data from 2017 and finds that while African Americans that year made up 13% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 50% of all homicide victims nationally.
The study found that just over 57 African Americans in Missouri died by homicide for every 100,000 people, which was nearly triple the national average. The findings come after a 64% increase in the state in the number of Black homicide victims from 2014 to 2017, according to the center.
Since the study was first released 14 years ago, the center said the number of Black homicide victims in Missouri has consistently remained above the rest of the country, ranking first or second for the past 11 years. But the latest data shows that Missouri’s rate far exceeds that for the state that came in second in the rankings: Iowa.
The Hawkeye State had 35.56 Black residents dying by homicide per 100,000 people, according to the analysis. Illinois ranked sixth with a rate of 30.62.
“The disproportionate impact homicide — almost always involving a gun — has on Black men, women, boys, and girls is a longstanding national shame that, outside of affected communities, has received neither the attention that it deserves nor the action that it demands,” the center’s executive director, Josh Sugarmann, said in a news release.
He said 95% of Black homicide victims are killed by gunfire in Missouri. Guns, specifically handguns, are the No. 1 “murder tool” used in homicides nationwide, according to the report.
“Missouri is experiencing a prolonged, and worsening, epidemic of Black homicide victimization,” according to the report. “The epidemic of Black homicide victimization in Missouri is a crisis that should be a top priority for lawmakers in the state.”
Sugarmann said the center aims to spur discussion and action to prevent high rates of homicide in the country.