Washington, DC — Arkansas has the sixth highest Black homicide victimization rate in the nation with a rate of 38.83 per 100,000—more than one and a half times the national Black homicide victimization rate and nearly six and a half times the overall homicide rate nationwide—according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).
In addition to national data, the annual study, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2020 Homicide Data, also ranks the states according to their Black homicide victimization rates. It is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). The study details homicide rates for 2020, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available. This is the 17th year the Violence Policy Center has released the study. To see past editions of the study, click here.
“The consistent, disproportionate impact of homicide on Black men, women, boys, and girls is a national shame. Guns are almost always the weapon used, and the ripple effects of each death ravage families, friends, and whole communities. Each year we release this information to help support violence prevention advocates and organizations working on the local level while continuing to educate and engage policymakers and the public on the need to address this national crisis,” state VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann.
This is the 3rd year in a row that Arkansas has ranked within the 10 states in the nation with the highest Black homicide victimization rates.
For ARKANSAS, the study finds that in 2020:
- Of the 192 Black homicide victims, 158 were male and 34 were female.
- Twenty-two Black homicide victims (12 percent) were less than 18 years old and 5 victims (3 percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 33 years old.
- When the weapon used could be identified, 87 percent of the Black homicide victims (152 out of 174) were killed with guns. Of these, 47 percent (71 victims) were killed with handguns.
- For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 95 percent of Black homicide victims (72 out of 76) were killed by someone they knew. Four were killed by strangers.
- For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 75 percent (75 out of 100) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 49 percent (37 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
The 10 states with the highest Black homicide victimization rates in 2020 were:
For the entire UNITED STATES, the study finds that in 2020:
• There were 9,753 Black homicide victims in the United States that year. Black Americans represented 14 percent of the U.S. population, yet accounted for 53 percent of all homicide victims.
• For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 89 percent of Black victims (8,285 out of 9,297) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 58 percent (4,776 victims) were killed with handguns.
• On average, more than 26 Black Americans died each day from homicide, of these, 22 were known to have died from gun homicides.
• The Black homicide victimization rate in the United States was nearly four times the overall national victimization rate and seven times the white homicide victimization rate. In 2020, the black homicide victimization rate was 23.41 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 6.03 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide victimization rate was 3.24 per 100,000.
• Eighty-six percent of Black homicide victims were male (8,398 of 9,753) and 14 percent were female (1,352 of 9,753). The sex of three victims was unknown.
• The Black male homicide victimization rate in the United States was more than four times the overall male victimization rate and more than eight times the white male homicide victimization rate. In 2020, the homicide victimization rate for Black male victims was 41.92 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall rate for male homicide victims was 9.83 per 100,000 and the rate for white male homicide victims was 4.84 per 100,000.
• The Black female homicide victimization rate in the United States was more than twice the overall female victimization rate and nearly four times the white female homicide victimization rate. In 2020, the homicide victimization rate for Black female victims was 6.25 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall rate for female homicide victims was 2.32 per 100,000 and the rate for white female homicide victims was 1.66 per 100,000.
• For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 76 percent of Black victims (2,734 out of 3,585) were killed by someone they knew. The number of victims killed by strangers was 851.
In addition, individuals living in communities where violence is prevalent are at higher risk for a broad range of negative health and behavior outcomes. An increased understanding of how trauma resulting from community violence influences development, health, and behavior can lead to improvements in the way many social services are delivered as well as policy changes at the local and federal levels (see the July 2017 VPC study The Relationship Between Community Violence and Trauma: How Violence Affects Learning, Health, and Behavior). At the same time, the firearms industry, looking to expand beyond its shrinking base of white male gun owners, has launched an organized marketing campaign focusing on Black, Latino, and Asian Americans. If successful, such efforts can only increase gun death and injury in these communities (see the 2021 Violence Policy Center studies How the Firearms Industry and NRA Market Guns to Communities of Color and How the Firearms Industry Markets Guns to Asian Americans).
The rate of Black homicide victimization is calculated by dividing the number of Black homicide victims by the Black population and multiplying the result by 100,000. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence.
The full study is available at http://vpc.org/studies/