With mass shootings plaguing the US and intimate partner homicide sky-rocketing during the end of the decade, it can feel like this lethal crime is all around us. There is no universal or cultural indicator for murder, and it is not limited to a specific ethnicity, location, or occupation. Recent murder statistics show a sinister realization: that just because somewhere feels safe doesn’t mean that it is safe.
Murder can happen anywhere, in dense urban centers, sweet suburbias, or even out in the middle of nowhere.
The motivations for murder are numerous. From crimes of passion to insatiable quests for money, power, and fame, to manslaughter, drug trafficking, and police brutality; anyone can become a murderer given the right set of circumstances.
Societies have rightfully developed various methods to sanction murder, but still, people killing other people appears to be a trait of human society.
Important Homicide Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- 1,960 people were killed in California in 2019
- Louisiana has a murder rate of 14.4 per 100,000
- Out of 864 civilians shot in 2020, 192 were Black
- The number of cold cases in the US is increasing by 6,000 each year
- Women account for 82% of murder victims killed by an intimate partner
- Tijuana had 2,640 homicides in 2018
- Nation’s wealth, effective law enforcement, and political stability affect the murder rates
- Negligent manslaughter and murder numbers have increased by 0.3%
What Is the Murder Rate in the US?
The US homicide rate is based on reported cases, and many crimes still go unsolved and unreported. Still, there is a glimmering light, as rates in the US appear to be slowly decreasing, with 16,425 homicide cases reported across the country in 2019.
1. California had 1,690 reported homicides in 2019.
According to recent statistics, in 2019 California had the highest murder rate in the US, with a total of 1,960 reported homicides. Texas had the second-largest count of murders, with 1,409 victims, while Florida held third place, with 1,122 murders. On the other side of the spectrum, Vermont reported only 11 victims, Wyoming had 13, and South Dakota had 17.
2. There were 417 mass shootings in the US in 2019.
Based on the US homicide rate by year, there were an unprecedented amount of mass shootings in 2019. A mass shooting is considered an incident when at least four people are shot, not including the shooter. The data from Gun Violence Archive shows that 31 of 417 shootings were mass murders, and some occurred in less than 24 hours from each other.
3. During July 2017 to June 2018, there were 56 school-associated violent deaths, out of which 46 were homicides
Based on the reported murder rate in the USA, there were 56 school-related deaths in the US between 2017 and 2018, and 35 of these were homicides of youth aged 5-17 years old. Other deaths included nine suicides and one death caused by a law enforcement officer.
4. Louisiana is rated the most dangerous state, with a murder rate of 14.4 per 100,000.
When it comes to the murder statistics in the US, Louisiana has almost twice the amount of homicides as the rest of the country, and as such, is considered the most dangerous state, with an average of 14.4 murders per 100,000 residents. Murders were concentrated in the urban areas, specifically New Orleans.
5. East St. Louis has a murder rate of 10.9 victims per 10,000 people.
According to the most recent report on murder rate by city, East St. Louis, Illinois, has the highest murder rate in the US, with a total of 27 murders among 26,769 citizens. In second place is Chester, Pennsylvania, with a murder rate of 6.74 per 10,000 people. Finally, Gary, Indiana, takes third place, with 46 murders out of 76,556 people in the city.
6. Chicago saw a 55% increase in homicides during 2020.
The latest data on the highest number of murders in the US by city shows that Chicago had a 55% increase of homicides in 2020 compared to 2019. The relationship between gun-laws and homicide rate is becoming established worldwide, and notably, this midwestern city also saw a drastic increase of 110% in gun carrying, most of which were illegal firearms.
7. The most murdered demographic in the US are Hispanic and Latino people, with 8,881 murders in 2019.
There is a silent epidemic that gains little attention among the Hispanic and Latino population in America. While murder statistics by race and gender clearly show that anyone can become a victim, 2019 statistics highlight that Hispanic and Latino individuals are most at-risk of being killed by homicide, with 8,881 people killed, 6,975 of which were male, and 1,900 were female. In second place, the African American population had a total number of 7,484 murder victims, of which 6,446 were male and 1,035 were female.
8. During 2020, law enforcement shot 864 civilians.
The US murder rate doesn’t currently include deaths caused by law enforcement, and yet the trend seems to be on the rise. The latest data shows that 864 civilians were shot in 2020, 192 of which were African American. With the Black Lives Matter movement, more attention is brought to the numbers and frequency of police killing civilians.
9. The number of nonnegligent manslaughter and murder offenses increased by 0.3%.
According to the FBI homicide statistics, the estimated number of violent crimes in the US, have mostly, decreased for the third year in a row. There are two areas that have seen an increase, however: aggravated assault, and nonnegligent or voluntary manslaughter.
While general violent crime has decreased, the instance of people attacking each other was the only area of violent criminality that saw an increase. Instances of voluntary manslaughter offenses have increased by 0.3%, and aggravated assault increased by 1.3%.
10. The overall infant homicide rate is 7.2 per 100,000 persons.
Based on the number of infant murders in the US, infanticide is the 13th cause of death for infants. The infant homicide rate is 5.4 times higher than any other moment in life, and most often occurs in the first 24 hours after birth.
11. Infant homicides in the first 24 hours of life are likely committed by the mother.
Data shows that it’s primarily mothers who commit neonaticide. Statistics reveal that the majority of these crimes occur to mothers who are young, unmarried, have lower education, and thus are more likely to be involved in concealed pregnancies and birthing outside of a hospital.
12. The nationwide US homicide rate dropped to 5 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2018.
In the 1950s, there were 5.1 homicide deaths per 100,000 people in the US. In the 60s, the number remained relatively similar, with 5 per 100,000 Americans. Through the decades of 1970, 1980, and 1990 there was a drastic increase in murder rates across the country, hitting a high point in the 80s of 10.4 homicides per 100,000 people.
This data is based on surveys on the total number of murders in the US published in 2019, and while current reports are still not available, the latest murder rate recorded was back to 5 in 2018.
13. 62% of murder cases are closed, but there are 250,000 open cases left in the US.
The number of cold murder cases is increasing by about 6,000 each year. The FBI Uniform Crime report says that in 2017, investigators closed only 62% of murder cases. With 250,000 cases left to solve, FBI murder statistics show that there is a dire need for more cold case units to address this growing caseload. Globally, the number is similar, with about 63% of identified suspects, but the regional numbers vary greatly.
14. From a sample of 13,922 homicides, firearms are the most commonly used murder weapon.
During 2019, the FBI collected data of 13,922 homicides and concluded that 74% of murders were committed with some kind of firearm. Based on the homicide rate in the US, the national breakdown by weapon type further shows that 45.7% of murders were committed with handguns and 23.9% with unknown firearms. In 11.4% of murders, the perpetrator used other weapons, and 10.6% of murders were done with knives and cutting instruments.
15. Maryland is among the top 10 states with the highest homicide rate for murders committed with a handgun.
In 75% of murders committed in Maryland, the weapon of choice was a handgun, ranking number 1 in all of the US for this category. Georgia is second, with 68.5%, and Pennsylvania is right after, with 62.9%, followed by Mississippi, Nebraska, and Wyoming, with 61.9%, 57.8%, and 53.8%. According to the murder rate by state, Oklahoma is the last on the list, with 48.9% of murders committed with a handgun.
16. In 18.2% of murders committed in Vermont, the homicides were committed by hands, fists, and similar.
Vermont was found to have the highest rate of homicides committed with hands, fists, feet, and similar body parts, by almost one-fifth. Notably, Vermont also has the highest percentage of homicides committed with rifles at 18.18%.
International Murder Rates
Every country in the world has murders that occur daily, and more than 400,000 people are victims of homicide every year. Just like mass shootings are usually being left out in the US, global statistics do not include interstate and civil wars or genocide casualties as homicides.
17. El Salvador has a murder rate of 82.84 murdered people per 100,000 residents, which is 0.083%.
Murder rates show that some countries are so violent that the number of homicides is astonishing. For example, in 2020, El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela had 82.84, 56.52, and 56.33 homicides per 100,000 residents. The prevalence of gangs in El Salvador, and the presence of corruption in Venezuela, combined with poor gun control, provides just one piece of the story for why these rates are so high.
Other countries with the highest murder rates in the world are the United States Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Lesotho, Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and South Africa.
18. Japan, Singapore, China, Hong Kong all have less than 0.5 people murdered per 100,000 inhabitants.
One major contributor to the murder rates in a country is the law and its application. Other factors that should be considered are the wealth of the nation, effective law enforcement, political stability, and general access to weapons like firearms.
The countries with the lowest homicide rates in the world seem to have managed to balance these factors to create a safer society. Japan, Singapore, China, Hong Kong all have less than 0.5 people murdered per 100,000 inhabitants every year. For example, Japan has the most demanding firearm regulations, and murder is punishable by hanging.
19. Women are more likely to be killed by intimate partners.
According to murder statistics by gender, The Global Study of Homicide by UNODC from 2019 states that the number of women who were killed in their homes rose from 47% in 2012 to 58% in 2017. In addition, women account for 82% of murder victims killed by an intimate partner, and 64% of victims killed by a family member.
20. Globally, 81% of homicide victims are men, which is four times more than female victims.
While women continue to become victims of their partners and family members, men’s deaths are mostly caused by someone unrelated to them, based on global murder rates. This is especially true for Central American countries known for gang conflict.
21. Tijuana, Mexico, is one of the most violent cities in the world.
With a population of almost 2 million, Tijuana had 2,640 homicides in 2018. Due to it’s notorious drug-trafficking and competing cartels, Tijuana currently holds first place for the city with the highest homicide rate in the world. Acapulco, Mexico, is in second place, with 111 murders per 100,000 people. The third most violent city in the world is Caracas, Venezuela, with 100 homicides per 100,000 citizens.
22. The number of murder victims worldwide has increased from 395,542 in 1992 to 464,000 in 2017.
The overall number of murder victims has increased from 395,542 in 1992 to 464,000 in 2017. As the global population is rising faster than the number of committed murders, the homicide rate by year appears to be declining despite the increase in actual occurred acts.
23. Most women killed by family members or intimate partners were in Asia.
About 20,000 women killed in Asia in 2017 were murdered by their partner or a family member. Observed globally, Africa is the second continent with a large number of women murdered by intimate violence. The Americas, Europe, and Oceania have a lower number of women who die by the hand of their partner at 8,000, 3,000, and 300, respectively.
Based on these global murder rates, Asia and Africa are the most dangerous continents to be a woman.
24. The global homicide trend among boys under 14 years of age remains stable.
The global study on homicide, conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, shows that homicide trends among boys aged 0 to 14 remain stable in recent years. On the other hand, according to homicide rates by year, young adults aged 15 to 29 showed a slight increase in murder rates in 2017 compared to 2008.
Murder is a global phenomenon and touches all communities regardless of age, race, economic status, country, or location. No country or city is completely safe. Men, women, and children can all become victims of killers but can also commit this lethal act.
Many things affect the nation’s murder rate, such as the country’s wealth, the capabilities of law enforcement agencies, and the general application of laws. According to recent murder statistics, residents of urban areas have higher incidences of murder, which may derive from over-population, income disparities, and gang activity.
There may not be a catch-all solution to stopping homicide completely, but the countries with the lowest rates, like Japan, have strict gun control laws, with lethal penalties for anyone who commits murder. An eye for an eye may make the whole world blind; or perhaps it just forces us to see the true impact of our insidious actions.
People Also Ask
In 2019, the US had the highest solve rate of murder cases at 61.4%. This means that suspects were either arrested, charged with the offense, or persecuted. Just because cases were solved, however, doesn’t always mean that justice was served due to lack of evidence or other judicial factors.
On a global scale, the percentage of solved cases is 63%. Although it strongly depends on the region. For example, Europe, with 35 countries, has a clearance rate of 92%, while Oceania with just two countries has 74%, and Asia with 13, solves 72%.
The country with the highest number of murders is El Salvador, with 82.84 homicides per 100,000 residents. The main reasons why El Salvador has the highest homicide count are gangs, organized crime, drug trafficking, and the overall political turbulence.
With it comes the increased usage of firearms and a growing number of gang wars where the most common victims are young males.
The murder rate has been decreasing in the US. The latest statistics show that there were 16,425 homicide cases reported nationwide in 2019. The majority of victims were males, with about half of them being African American.
When it comes to numbers among different states, those vary greatly. One of the leading causes of murder in the US might be high firearm circulation.
The murder counts vary per state, but Louisiana has the highest murder rate per 100,000 Americans with 14.4. In 2020, murders were twice as expected there than nationwide.
Based on the numbers, murders are concentrated around urban areas, and New Orleans is on the list of the least safe cities in the United States. The other two states with the most murders are Alabama and Mississippi.
Based on the murder rate, El Salvador, Venezuela, and Honduras are the most dangerous countries to live in. Rates based on cities, however, rank Tijuana, Mexico, as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, with 138 victims counted per 100,000 residents.
Acapulco, Mexico, holds second place, with 111 murders per 100,000 people. The third most violent city is Caracas, Venezuela, with 100 homicides per 100,000, according to global murder statistics.