WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ohio’s black homicide victimization rate is higher than the national average, and guns were overwhelmingly the most common weapons used, according to “Black Homicide Victimization in the Great Lakes States,” a new study from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) which analyzes black homicide victimization in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The analysis is a regional companion report to the VPC’s annual national study “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2015 Homicide Data,” which ranks the 50 states according to their black homicide victimization rates.
Both studies are based on unpublished information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR), and detail homicide data for 2015, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available.
“Each day across America, the number of black homicide victims exceeds the toll in the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting. And just like Parkland and other mass shootings, these deaths devastate families, traumatize whole communities and should provoke an outcry for change. The devastating and disproportionate impact homicide, almost always involving a gun, has on black men, boys, women and girls in America is an ongoing national crisis. We hope our research will help educate the public and policymakers, spur action and aid community leaders already working to end this grave injustice,” says VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann.
“Ohio has a black homicide victimization rate higher than the national average, yet our elected officials spend their time pushing for expansion of laws like Stand Your Ground that can only add to this lethal toll,” says Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
Findings from the study for Ohio include:
There were 304 black homicide victims in Ohio in 2015.
The homicide rate among black victims in Ohio was 20.57 per 100,000 in 2015.
Ohio had the 19th highest black homicide victimization rate in the United States.
Age: 18 homicide victims (6 percent) were less than 18 years old, and two victims (1 percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 31 years old.
Gender: Of 304 homicide victims, 260 were male and 44 were female.
Most Common Weapons: For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 84 percent of victims (224 of 268) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 55 percent (123 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 91 victims killed with firearms, type not stated. There were 28 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 11 victims killed by bodily force, and 3 victims killed by a blunt object.
Victim/Offender Relationship: For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 86 percent of victims (96 of 111) were killed by someone they knew. Fifteen victims were killed by strangers.
Circumstance: For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 79 percent (120 of 152) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 43 percent (51 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
To see the study appendix which lists for every state the number of black homicide victims, its black homicide victimization rate and the state’s rank by rate, visit www.vpc.org/studies/blackhomicide18appendix.pdf.
Nationally in 2015, there were 7,014 black homicide victims in the United States. That year, the black homicide victimization rate in the United States was 18.68 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.62 per 100,000. For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 86 percent of black victims (5,756 of 6,716) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 71 percent (4,062 victims) were killed with handguns.
In its conclusion, the report notes that 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. For more information, see the July 2017 VPC study “The Relationship Between Community Violence and Trauma: How Violence Affects Learning, Health and Behavior” at www.vpc.org/studies/trauma17.pdf.
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.
“Black Homicide Victimization in the Great Lakes States” is available at www.vpc.org/studies/greatlakes18.pdf.
“Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2015 Homicide Data” is available at www.vpc.org/studies/blackhomicide18.pdf.