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Overall murder rates among black Americans are 6.3 times higher than they are for whites, according to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Another report suggests white offenders made up just 45.3 percent of everyone who committed homicides between 19.* In other words, white Americans may be somewhat underrepresented among mass shooters, but they’re underrepresented among all killers.
The answer there would seem to have everything to do with privilege.Stephen Paddock shot more than 500 people from the windows of his Las Vegas hotel room Sunday night, killing 58 of them.In the days since, a familiar story has been passed around the internet about the blinkered way in which we talk about these sorts of massacres. “These shooters are almost exclusively coming from a single socio-economic class and racial group,” wrote actor Cole Sprouse in a widely shared Twitter thread.(Keep in mind that the definition of whiteness is both vague and forever changing.In the 2010 census, the “white” category includes those whose families originate in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. At any rate, it certainly wasn’t true—as many argued then, and many do today—that mass shooters were “almost exclusively” or “disproportionately” or “nearly all” white.In that limited sense, it would be fair to say that whites are responsible for more public massacres than you might expect.Does that mean their whiteness is a factor in these crimes?The media outlet had found that roughly 70 percent of the shooters in mass killings were white—certainly a majority.But according to Census Bureau estimates for 2012, whites accounted for 73.9 percent of all Americans., for its part, categorizes one Moroccan immigrant killer as “white”; leaves the race field blank for a Turkish immigrant; and describes several shooters of Pakistani, Palestinian, Afghan and Kuwaiti extraction as “other.”) I’m not sure where Kimmel and Leek got their stat about mass murders perpetrated by teenagers, but that figure, too, wasn’t that far off from U. (Mass shooters has added 29 more mass-shooting events to its database (and tweaked its definition of the crime to fit with new federal guidelines that placed the threshold at three victims instead of four).In this bigger data set, the proportion of white mass shooters drops down to 56 percent, by my count.