Report: Pa. ranks 7th nationwide for Black homicides | Friday Morning Coffee

May 21, 2021 7:07 am

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

A new report quantifies the devastating toll that gun violence is taking on Pennsylvania’s Black residents, with the Keystone State ranking 7th in the nation for Black homicides. Handguns are responsible for nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) of those deaths, according to research by the Violence Policy Center, a Washington D.C.-based research and advocacy organization.

In the 15 years the study has been conducted, Pennsylvania has consistently ranked among the top 10 states with the highest Black homicide rates, finishing at No. 1 three times, according to CeaseFirePA, the Philadelphia-based anti-gun violence organization that released the data on Thursday.

The rate of firearms-related deaths in Pennsylvania is slightly higher than the national rate of 86 percent. Nationwide, two-thirds of homicide victims were killed with a handgun, researchers found.

(Image via The Violence Policy Center)

“Black communities in Pennsylvania are facing a slow moving massacre from gun violence,” CeaseFirePA Executive Director Adam Garber said in a statement, noting the lack of legislative action in Harrisburg on gun violence reduction measures. “Sadly, many elected officials still refuse to pass policies that would help end this constant state of fear.”

Researchers compiled the report using the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report for 2018. And the new 2020 data suggests that the state’s Black homicide problem could well be getting worse.

“Pittsburgh has seen a staggering 90 percent increase in shootings this year. Nearly 800 people have been shot in Philadelphia this year, on track to become the deadliest year on record if current rates hold. And a significant portion of victims are Black,” CeaseFirePA noted in its statement.

“Gun violence remains a significant public health epidemic that must be addressed as such. Moreover, we must research, identify, and institutionalize successful interventions to reduce risks and address the immense trauma families and communities affected by violence continue to experience,” Kenneth Huston, the president of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference said in a statement. “We must also acknowledge the multifaceted risks including social determinants and structural inequities that harm communities through multiple complex pathways.”

(Image via The Violence Policy Center)

The 88 percent of Black homicide victims killed with handguns “underscores the need for gun safety laws that address all types of firearms and reduce illegal firearm trafficking, such as requiring reporting of lost or stolen weapons,” the CeaseFirePA statement notes.

“In 2018, Black men, women, boys, and girls were only 14 percent of our nation’s population, yet accounted for 50 percent of all homicide victims. These deaths devastate families, traumatize communities, and almost always involve a gun. The goal of our research is to help support community advocates and organizations working on the ground to stop this lethal violence while, at the same time, continuing to educate and engage the public and policymakers on the need to address this ongoing national crisis,” Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said in a statement.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

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Philadelphia City Hall (Image via

Philadelphia City Council
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And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.