G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Rod Dreher offers some thoughts on guns and murder in America:
I live in rural Louisiana. I would say that most households in my parish have at least one gun, and many more than one. Poverty is common; gun violence is not. Forty miles away is inner-city Baton Rouge. Poverty is common — and so is gun violence. Something else is going on.
The Baton Rouge Advocate reported earlier this year that while gun crime is spreading all over the city, it remains heavily concentrated among poor black people in the northern part of the city. The victims and the killers are both likely to be young black men. And Baton Rouge police say drugs are usually at the center of killings there.
According to 2011 FBI statistics, blacks were responsible for 37 percent all murders in the US — three times the percentage of African-Americans in the US population. Unsurprisingly, young men, too, were disproportionately responsible for murders. And broken down by murder and victim, statistics show that in 2011, US murders are heavily a matter of white people killing white people, and black people killing black people.
So: if your state has lots of black people in it, you will have more killings overall, given that they are disproportionately represented among killers and victims. One in three Louisianians are black, versus 13 percent nationwide. If gun homicides are disproportionately concentrated among African-Americans, then states with proportionately larger African-American populations are going to register higher rates of gun homicides. Moreover, according to the 2010 Census, 60 percent of New Orleanians are black, and 33 percent white — the exact opposite of the black-white ratio in the rest of the state. The black-white ratio in Baton Rouge is comparable. You do the math.
Right. Louisiana has the nation’s highest murder rate (12.3 per 100,000 population), and the second highest percentage of blacks. Contrast that with Western and Northern Europe-like murder rates: Wyoming = 2.0, Wisconsin = 2.6 (thanks Milwaukee; Wisconsin’s murder rate sans Milwaukee is 1.0), Vermont = 1.3, Utah = 1.4, North Dakota = 2.0, New Hampshire = 0.9, Minnesota = 1.5, Maine = 2.0, Iowa = 1.3, Idaho = 1.5. By my calculation, taking Baton Rouge and New Orleans out of the equation, Louisiana’s murder rate falls by half.