May 18, 2021

For More Information
Adam Garber, CeaseFire PA Executive Director, (267) 515-1220,
Frances Patano, CeaseFirePA Communications Manager, 


REPORT: PA Ranks in Top 10 States for Black Homicide Rate

PHILADELPHIA, PA — A new study from the Violence Policy Center ranked Pennsylvania 7th in the nation for Black homicides, with firearms responsible for 88% of fatalities. 

Despite clear evidence of the devastating toll of gun violence on Black people in Pennsylvania the legislature still refuses to act. Pennsylvania has continuously ranked among the 10 states with the highest Black homicide victimization rates throughout the study’s 15-year history, including three times at the very top. 

“Black communities in Pennsylvania are facing a slow-moving massacre from gun violence,” stated CeaseFirePA Education Fund’s Executive Director Adam Garber. “Sadly, many elected officials still refuse to pass policies that would help end this constant state of fear.” 

The report is based on data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report for 2018. . And 2020 suggests Pennsylvania’s Black homicide problem may be getting worse. Pittsburgh has seen a staggering 90% increase in shootings this year. Nearly 800 people have been shot in Philadelphia this year, on track to become the deadliest year on record if current rates hold. And a significant number of victims are Black. 

President Kenneth Huston of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference states that “Gun violence remains a significant public health epidemic that must be addressed as such. Moreover, we must research, identify, and institutionalize successful interventions to reduce risks and address the immense trauma families and communities affected by violence continue to experience. We must also acknowledge the multifaceted risks including social determinants and structural inequities that harm communities through multiple complex pathways.”

And 88 percent of Black homicide victims killed with guns were killed with handguns, underscoring the need for gun safety laws that address all types of firearms and reduce illegal firearm trafficking, such as requiring reporting of lost or stolen weapons.

“In 2018, Black men, women, boys, and girls were only 14 percent of our nation’s population, yet accounted for 50 percent of all homicide victims. These deaths devastate families, traumatize communities, and almost always involve a gun. The goal of our research is to help support community advocates and organizations working on the ground to stop this lethal violence while, at the same time, continuing to educate and engage the public and policymakers on the need to address this ongoing national crisis,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. 


CeaseFirePA Education Fund is Pennsylvania’s state-based gun violence prevention organization working to end an epidemic through education, outreach, and advocacy.

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) works to stop gun death and injury through research, education, advocacy, and collaboration.

Facing the truth about gun violence in PA