Recent Surge in Homicides Involving Young Black Males and Guns: Time To Reinvest in Prevention and Crime Control

by James A. Fox; Marc L. Swatt

Dec 1, 2008

This review of recent U.S. homicide trends by race of offenders and victims, as well as weapons used, shows a surge in homicides that involve young Black males and guns.
  • Following the decrease in young black male homicides in the late 1990s, the number of homicides involving black male juveniles as victims rose by 31 percent and as perpetrators by 43 percent from 2002 to 2007. Fifty-four percent of gun killings within this same time period had young black males as victims and 47 percent had them as perpetrators. However, these figures are not alarming when compared to the early 1990s, and speak more to the need to reinvest and programs and strategies that worked in the past.
  • Significantly, the percentage of homicides involving a gun has risen to nearly 85 percent among young black offenders, matching the high-point reached during the early 1990s. Non-gun homicide levels have remained relatively flat or even decreased since 2000.
  • Drastic funding cuts have led to a significant reduction in police resources among large cities. Must of this is related to 9/11 as federal support for law enforcement shifted from hometown security to homeland security, focusing on protecting the nation's transportation, government, and financial centers.