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From the Bulletin of the A.C.C.C. Issue Number

Murder Victim Studies



This article reports on four major studies that examine race, guns, and the background of murderers and their victims.

The Philadelphia Study

Six experts including five medical doctors studied homicide by firearms in "the city of brotherly love" and the surrounding county.

The records of 324 firearms homicide victims were examined and the results published in the 1993 Journal of Trauma (Vol. 25-4, p. 532-5370).

Race. 81% of the victims were black, 9% were Hispanic and only 9% were white. On a per capita basis as compared to whites, blacks were 10 times more likely to be killed. Hispanics were 8 times more likely to be killed.

Drugs & Alcohol. At least 61% of the victims were under the influence of one or more intoxicants. Toxicology screens showed cocaine in 39% and alcohol in 35%. The MDs noted that toxicology screens underestimate the number of intoxicated victims.

Criminal Records. 67% of the victims had criminal records. Of those with records, 84% had prior drug arrests and 36% firearms arrest. On average they had criminal histories of 6 years with an average of four arrest each.

Fully 84% of the victims were either intoxicated or had criminal records. These victims were not innocent.

Firearms Findings. In 1985 Philadelphia killers' most commonly used semiautomatic was the 25 caliber, a small often nonlethal handgun. These "Saturday night specials" were restricted by the government to save lives.

Not able to purchase the 25 calibers, criminals apparently are switching to bigger handguns. By 1990 the much more lethal 9 millimeter (Lugar) was the gun of choice. The Mds reported that the 9 mm. guns are 7 times more lethal. Gun control may actually be causing more deaths.

Of the 324 victims, 6 were killed by rifles but no use of an assault weapon was reported.

The L.A. Drive-by Study

Los Angeles is an example of the results of "diversity." LA has 400 different gangs with 60,000 gang members. Gang racial breakdown is 58% black, 37% Hispanic, 3% Asian and 2% white.

Three researchers including two Mds reported their finding on 1991 L.A. drive-by shootings (1994 New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 330-5, p. 324-327).

They examined only cases where the person shot at was under 17 years. Criminals shot at 1545 adults and 677 people under 17.

Of the 677 shot at, 429 were hit. Of these 429, 65% were Hispanic and 19% were black.

Gang Membership. 71% of the victims were documented members of gangs. This included 30 female gang members. The primary purpose of the shooting was to terrorize the other gangs. These were not random shootings.

Weapons. The 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun was the most common weapon. Only one shooting involved a weapon that could be classified as an assault-style type weapon.

The BJS Murder in Families Study

In July 1994, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released their report Murder in Families. The BJS studied 2,539 cases of murder within the family in 33 of the largest counties of the U.S. Of these, only the 1059 spouse murders are discussed here.

Murderers. The spouse murderers are hardly the ordinary law-abiding citizens that the news media describes. At the time of the murders, 54% were using alcohol, 25% were unemployed, 51% had a prior arrest record, and 12% had a history of mental illness.

Victims. The spouse victims were not all model citizens either. At the time of the murder, 50% were using alcohol, 13% were unemployed, and 35% had a prior arrest record.

Using weapons of fists, 23% of the victims precipitated the incident by attacking the murderer. In 15% of cases, the victims were armed.

Race. In 56% of the spouse murders, the murder and victim were black. Since blacks are only 20% of the population of the 33 urban counties, on a per capita basis, a black was 5 times more likely than a white to murder their spouse.

The study also reported on the murder of other family members. As compared to non-blacks, blacks are 4 times more likely to murder a parent, 7 times more likely to murder their own offspring, and 8 times more likely to murder a sibling.

Weapons. Where a spouse was killed a firearm was used in 53% of the cases. In cases where the victim, was a parent over 60 or a child under 12, the murderer usually used strangulation, a blunt instrument, or pounding with hands and feet.

The BJS Murder in Large Urban Counties Study, 1988

In the urban study, the Bureau of Justice Statistics used the same database that they used in the murder in families study. However, in the urban study BJS included all murders. Over 8,000 murder cases were researched.

Race of Murderers. This is one of the few government crime studies that provides information on Hispanics. In virtually all studies, most Hispanics are included as part of the white population.

Of these murders, 62% of them were black, 36% were "white," and 2% were other. Nonhispanics were 81% and Hispanics were 19%.

The number of whites who are Nonhispanic cannot be exactly calculated. However, a reasonable estimate is that white nonhispanics committed only about 20% of all murders.

In other words, in these 33 urban counties, about 80% of the murders are committed by the black and Hispanic minorities.

Victim Races. 54% of the victims were black and 20% were Hispanic.

Murderers' Crime Records. Approximately, 44% of the victims had criminal records. Of these, fully 83% were killed by someone who also had a criminal record.

Multiple Assailants. In 33% of the cases victims were attacked by multiple assailants. Two assailants attacked in 19% of the cases, and three to six assailants attacked in 14% of the cases.

Obviously, facing these high odds, potential victims can justify high magazine capacity, large caliber weapons.

Guns and Race. The majority of black victims (55%) were killed with guns. Only 44% of whites (including Hispanics) were killed with guns.

The BJS did not provide statistics on (1) the weapons by killer rather than by victim, and (2) the breakout of Hispanic killings. Had they done so it would have, even more clearly, shown the smaller use of guns by whites.

Guns and Sex. The majority of men 54% were killed by guns while only 36% of women were killed by guns.

This study reinforces the BJS family study's finding. Guns are not needed to kill people that society most wants to protect. Absence of guns will not protect the weak. It will only assure that they are easy to victimize.

Relationships of Victims to killers. The media and gun control advocates like to point out that most victims know their killers.

They hope we will infer that this means they had a normal relationship. Then, with sudden outburst of anger, the presence of the gun was responsible for the death.

The 'relationships" were as follows:

Strangers. 20% of victims are killed by strangers.

Romantic Involvement. This category includes 22% of the victims and 16% of the murderers. Romantic relationships include the spouses discussed in the family study.

Other romantic relationships include lovers (heterosexual and homosexual), live-ins, and rivals.

Some of the victims could be described as innocent. However, the majority had sordid relationships and not Ozzie and Harriet relationships.

Illegal Drugs. Illegal drugs provided the relationship for 16% of the victims and 18% of the killers.

People in the drug business know each other. In these relationships, a drug deal went bad or a rival dealer or partner was snuffed.

Crime and Gang Relationships. This category includes 17% of victims and 36% of killers.

Here, a gang member kills a member of his own gang or someone he knows in another gang. This group also includes contract killings, pimps killing prostitutes, robbery, murders of friends, and so forth.

Criminals do not go out to kill strangers. They often kill criminals and others that they know.

Child Abuse Murders. These victims are innocent but they are only 4% of all victims. Very few child abuse murder victims are killed with guns.

Concluding Comments

Innocent Victims. Undeniably, some victims are innocent. However, the vast majority are "low-lifes." As compared to the general population, both murderers and victims have criminal records and abuse alcohol or drugs.

Random Crime. Very little crime is random. In fact, 80% of killers have a "relationship" with their victim. Most often, they know each other through drug deals, criminal activity, or sordid romances.

The majority of crime bears more resemblance to the falling out of two drunken pirates than to an argument between Ozzie and Harriet.

Race. Black and Hispanics are responsible for the vast majority of murders. Nonhispanic whites are more likely to be a victim than a killer.

Guns Versus Race. In urban areas, blacks and Hispanics commit about 80% of murders, yet firearms are used in 47% of murders.

Squaring .80 and .47 yields rough coefficient of determination of .64 for race and .20 for guns.

We can say that race accounts for about 64% of the variance in murder while guns account for only 20% of the variance in murder.

Said another way, race is 2.9 times a better predictor of murder than is guns (64 divided by 20 = 2.9).

Parting Shot. You are losing your rights because of too much crime. They want to fingerprint and curfew your teenagers. They want your guns and the right to kick in your doors without due process.

They want to ban "hate crimes" which would, among other things, make you a criminal just for reading this.

Do not allow yourself to be punish for what others do.

Rather than being treated as individuals, minorities demand to be treated as a group. Perhaps, we should treat then that way.