Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, today renewed her call for Missouri lawmakers to enact reasonable gun safety regulations in light of a new report that finds Missouri leads the nation in the number of black victims of gun violence. The Violence Policy Center, a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury, reports that Missouri's black homicide victimization rate is more than seven times the national average. This is the third year in a row Missouri has led the nation in this tragic statistic. The Violence Policy Center released its findings Wednesday after analyzing unpublished data from the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Report.
"I agree with the co-author of the study that this is a public health crisis that is devastating black teens and adults, their families and their communities," Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said. "I am sure there are a number of factors that contribute to the high incidence of gun violence in our urban communities, such as persistent poverty, unemployment and drug abuse, but easy access to guns is a huge factor and it is an issue we can address with fairly simple legislative remedies."
Sen. Chappelle-Nadal is sponsoring SB 124, which creates the offense of failing to prevent illegal firearm possession; it creates the offense of negligent storage of a firearm; and it encourages a parent or guardian enrolling a child in school to notify the school district or the governing body of a private or charter school that the parent or guardian owns a firearm.
"Of the dozen or so incidents involving teenagers and guns in my Senate district since August, most were the result of a gun stolen from an unsecured place in the home and then used in robberies, car-jackings, and even murder," Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said.
The Violence Policy Center reports Missouri's black homicide victimization rate is 33.86 per 100,000, based on 2010 data, the most recent data available. Pennsylvania, number two on the list, had a black homicide victimization rate of 26.98 per 100,000. Nationwide, the majority of victims - 83% - were shot and killed with firearms. In Missouri, 91% of victims were killed with guns.
The Violence Policy Center report finds: 1) there were 255 black homicides in 2010; 231 of the victims were male and 24 were female; 2) for homicides in which a weapon could be identified, 91% of black victims were killed with guns, and 58% of those victims were killed with a handgun--14 victims were killed with knives or other cutting instruments, four were killed by bodily force, and two were killed with a blunt object; 3) for homicides in which a relationship could be identified between the victim and the offender, 56 out of 79 victims (71%) were killed by someone they knew while 23 victims were killed by strangers; 4) in those cases where authorities could identify the circumstances of the crime, 53% were not related to the commission of another felony--of these cases, 72% involved an argument between the victim and the offender.
Nationwide, there were 6,469 black homicide victims in 2010, and the homicide rate for black victims that year was 16.32 per 100,000. The overall national homicide rate was 4.42 per 100,000 and the homicide rate for whites was 2.66 per 100,000. In 2010, blacks represented 13% of the U.S. population but accounted for 49% of all homicide victims.
"We are losing an entire generation of young black men to gun violence," Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said. "It is our responsibility as public servants to find ways to end this plague of gun violence that is destroying the fabric of our communities."