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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Homicide

In this section, we present the following data:


Local, state, and national homicide numbers and rates

Table 2: Firearm homicide, 2006-2010

Number
Age-adjusted rate (per 100,000)
KC
WA
US
KC
WA
US
Total
190
600
60,173
2
1.8
4
  • Between 1999 and 2010, the number of firearm homicides in King County fluctuated between 25 (2009) and 50 (2007) per year.

  • The King County homicide rate and firearm homicide rate were significantly lower than the national rates. Compared to the U.S. rates, after adjusting for age and race, the risk of homicide in King County was 30% lower and the risk of firearm homicide was 35% lower.

  • Of all homicides in King County between 2006 and 2010, 61% were firearm homicides, compared to 68% in the U.S.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Homicide and firearm homicide, 2006-2010


International comparisons and U.S. county comparisons of homicide rates

Figure 3
Figure 3. Homicide and firearm homicide rates among selected countries
  • Overall, homicide rates in the U.S. are 7 times higher than those of other high-income countries; firearm homicide rates are 20 times higher.

  • King County is the 14th largest county in the U.S. by population. Compared to the ten largest counties in the U.S., the King County homicide rate and firearm homicide rate were low, ranking 10th in homicide, and 9th in firearm homicide.

Table 3: Homicide and firearm homicide among the 10 largest U.S. counties and King County, 2006-2010

 
Homicide
Firearm Homicide
County
Age Adjusted Rate
(per 100,000)
Number of Deaths
Age Adjusted Rate
(per 100,000)
Number of Deaths
 
Total
White
Black
Total
White
Black
Total
White
Black
Total
White
Black
Cook County, IL
11.1
4.5
31.7
2980
786
2176
8.6
3.2
25.5
2316
549
1762
Harris County, TX
10
8.6
17.4
2042
1263
723
7.3
6.1
13.4
1510
908
562
Miami-Dade County, FL
9.5
5
26.1
1172
479
691
7.4
3.4
21.9
912
323
588
Dallas County, TX
9.1
7.1
17.5
1106
602
486
6.6
5.1
12.9
816
437
366
Kings County, NY
8.6
4.1
17
1114
261
835
5.6
2
12.2
735
126
604
Los Angeles County, CA
8.1
6.9
26.6
4158
2608
1351
6.2
5.2
21.7
3210
1982
1108
Maricopa County, AZ
7.8
7.3
17.9
1480
1198
202
5.6
5.2
14.3
1058
851
162
Queens County, NY
4.2
2.7
11.1
473
160
272
2.3
1
7.9
261
58
197
San Diego County, CA
3.3
2.9
10.5
523
364
110
1.7
1.4
6.6
272
175
72
King County, WA
3.2
2.3
13.4
315
171
95
2
1.3
9.2
192
93
68
Orange County, CA
2.6
2.8
8.5
395
325
30
1.6
1.7
*
237
198
18

Notes:

Age adjustment is to 2000 U.S. population.

Race categories may not sum to total deaths due to other race groups not presented.

Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race and are included in the racial categories.

*Rate considered unreliable and not available when there are fewer than 20 deaths.

Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2010 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2012. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html on 1/30/13.


King County homicide rates by demographic characteristics and geography

  • In King County, the firearm homicide rate for males is five times higher than for females.

  • In the U.S., firearm homicide rates peak in 20-24 year olds, and generally decline with age. The King County rates follow a similar gender and age pattern.

  • Of the 190 firearm homicides between 2006 and 2010 in King County, 34 (18%) victims were age 19 and under.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Firearm homicide rates by age and gender in the U.S., 2006-2010 average
  • The firearm homicide rate among blacks is substantially higher than the rates for other racial/ethnic groups. In King County, the black rate is seven times higher than the white rate.

  • Compared to whites, a higher proportion of black homicide victims were killed by firearms. Of the 94 homicides among blacks between 2006 and 2010, 72% were firearm homicide, compared to 54% among whites.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Age-adjusted rate of firearm homicide by race/ethnicity, King County, 2006-2010 averages
  • Within King County, there are large geographic disparities in the firearm homicide rate. Averaged over ten years between 2001 and 2010, the firearm homicide rates in South and Central Seattle (including Beacon Hill/George Town/South Park, SE Seattle, Delridge, and Central Seattle) and part of South County (including SeaTac/Tukwila, Burien, and South Renton) were significantly higher than the county average. The combined average firearm homicide rates in these areas was more than 20 times higher than the combined average rate in Sammamish, Mercer Island/Point Cities, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Issaquah.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Firearm homicide death reates by Health Reporting Area, King County, WA, 10-year average, 2001-2010


Types of firearm and relationship between perpetrator and victim

  • Nationally, according to FBI data on homicides, most (67.8%) involved the use of firearms. Handguns comprised 72.5% of the firearms used in murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents in 2011.11

  • A 1986 study of King County deaths found that handguns were used in 71% of firearm homicide deaths.12

  • Nationally, in 2011, in incidents of murder for which the relationships of murder victims and offenders were known, 54.3% were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.); 24.8% were slain by family members.

  • Firearm deaths that occurred in King County homes involved friends or acquaintances 12 times as often as strangers.13

  • A 1993 study showed that firearms kept in the home were associated with an increased risk of homicide occurring in the home, especially by a family member or intimate acquaintance. Compared to households without a firearm kept in the home, the odds of homicide among households that kept a firearm was 2.7 times higher.14

Firearm injury due to assault

  • Between 2006-2010, there were 414 firearm injury hospitalizations in King County due to assaults. The King County rate of assault firearm injury hospitalization for this period (4.3 per 100,000) was 1.5 times higher than the rate for Washington state (2.8 per 100,000).


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