Nearly half the people murdered in the U.S. are black, part of a persistent pattern in which African Americans are disproportionately victimized by violent crime, says a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study reported by the Washington Post. The study found that from 2001 to 2005, more than nine out of 10 black murder victims were killed by other blacks, and three out of four were slain with a gun. Blacks, with 13 percent of the population, were victims in 15 percent of nonfatal violent crimes.
Experts said the study shows that encounters with criminals are often more likely to turn deadly for black victims than for victims of other races, in part because black victims are more likely to be confronted with firearms. “Black victimization is a real problem, and it’s often black on black,” said David Harris, a law professor at the University of Toledo. Blacks were also more likely than any other group to be victims of “serious violent crime,” which is defined as rape, other sexual assault, robbery or aggravated assault. “Blacks in America are facing a unique gun culture,” said Josh Sugarmann of the private Violence Policy Center. “Blacks are disproportionately likely to be confronted with guns, and that leads to the results that we’re seeing.”