2013 March 30 Saturday
Thinking About Crime And Murder

A long time ago I read James Q. Wilson's book Thinking About Crime and later Wilson and Herrnstein's Crime & Human Nature. These books spurred me take a more rational approach to patterns in crime statistics and about other patterns in human behavior. Therefore Steve's link to a ridiculous WaPo op-ed, "White Men With Guns", stood out most notably as lacking in statistics. Of course, this is the sort of mainstream media brain dead op-ed we get when we can't have an honest conversation. But let me inject some (easily dug up) statistics: in particular some murder statistics from US DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics.

WASHINGTON Ė The nationís homicide rate fell to 4.8 homicides per 100,000 U.S. residents in 2010, its lowest level in four decades, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced today. Much of the decline was in the nationís largest cities, those with a population of one million or more, where the homicide rate dropped dramatically from 35.5 homicides per 100,000 residents in 1991 to a low of 11.9 per 100,000 in 2008.

The sharp increase in homicides from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, and much of the subsequent decline, is attributable to gun violence by teens (age 14 to 17) and young adults (age 18 to 24). Despite the recent decline, the number of gun homicides committed by teens and young adults in 2008 remained similar to the counts of the mid-1980s.

Note the 6x versus 7x for victims versus perps in the next paragraph. If you subtract 7 minus 6 you get 1. What does that 1 tell you, comparatively speaking, versus white-on-white murder (to a rough approximation)? Tell me in the comments.

Most murders were intraracial. From 1980 through 2008, 84 percent of white homicide victims were murdered by whites and 93 percent of black victims were murdered by blacks. During this same period, blacks were disproportionately represented among homicide victims and offenders. Blacks were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims and seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide.

A point about rising gang violence: does a severe deficiency in status make it attractive to form gangs in order to give their members hierarchies they actually have a chance of climbing? Does inter-gang violence come about at least in part due to the desire to have competitions that one has a much higher chance of winning? One person dies but the other emerges as victorious on the field of status battle.

The number of homicides known to involve adult or juvenile gang violence has quadrupled since 1980, increasing from about 220 homicides in 1980 to 960 homicides in 2008. From 1980 to 2008, gang violence increased from one percent to six percent of all homicides. During this same period, gun involvement in gang-related homicides increased from 73 percent to 92 percent.

A graph of murder rates by race and gender yields another interesting contrast that surprised me.

This USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics PDF has lots of interesting graphs. Ignore the small graphs at the top and page down to the bigger ones. One notable pattern: The murder rate spike was only in lower age brackets.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 March 30 07:58 PM 

Normal said at March 30, 2013 9:07 PM:

How about this:

Figs.8, 9 and 10.

Blacks murder their babies roughly 3-fold more than whites do. Month after month, year after year.

Simon said at March 31, 2013 4:29 PM:

The last graph shows that black women have a higher murder rate than white men, where white men probably includes Hispanic men. This is taboo to mention because orthodox opinion takes it as a given that men are more violent than women by nature. Orthodox opinion would be unable to reconcile accepted views on race, gender, nature and nurture if these statistics were openly discussed.

Engineer-Poet said at April 1, 2013 6:28 AM:

The prisonpolicy graph appears to show victimization rates, not offending rates.  Black women commit murder less often than White men, per the BJS; however, they are in intimate-partner relationships with Black men and become victims more frequently as a result.

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