Uniform Crime Reporting Program

In the 2002, 14,054 murders took place in the United States of America. Murder as defined in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, is the willful killing of one human being by another. There are exceptions to this definition such as war and justifiable killings, which is when one feels that their life is threatened and murder is the only available recourse. I will use this essay to explain who commits these murders and why they commit them. There are many criminological theories to explain murder, but I think that Wolfgang’s Subculture of violence theory and the Differential Opportunity theory proposed by Cloward and Ohlin are the best two theories in explaining homicide.

According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the United States murder is predominantly a male thing, it is committed by a male on a male victim about 65% of the time. Males killing female’s accounts for around 25%, females killing males about seven percent and females killing other females only about three percent. The rate for males committing murder is about 12 per 100,000 people compared to females which are only one per 100,000 people. Males are also more likely to be the victim; males are three times more likely to be the victim than women, males are victims of murder about nine per 100,000 murders compared to females which account for only three per 100,000 murders.

Murder is also a young person’s game; the most common age for both the victims and offenders of murder is late adolescents and young adults. As with most aspects of American society race is also an issue when it comes to murder. Black people are six times more likely to be a victim of a murder and seven times more likely to commit one, than white people. However, whites killing whites accounts for around 46% of all murders, compared to blacks killing blacks which is around 42% of all murders, blacks killing whites accounts for 8% and whites killing blacks is 3%.

Most murders take place in large cities; over 9,000 were committed there in 2000, compared to 3,000 in the suburban areas, 2,000 in small cities, and 1,500 in rural communities. Several weapons are used to commit murders in the United States; however a majority are done with handguns. Handguns accounted for close to 8,000 homicides in 2000, other types of firearms were the cause of 2,209 murders, knives were used in 2,090 killings, blunt objects were used in 724 murders, and other means of killing accounted for 2,500 murders in 2000. Other means include beatings with fists and feet, pushing people down steps and off of buildings and poison. There are many circumstances that result in murder mostly they result from arguments, almost 5,000 murders in 2000 were due to an argument, 4,776 murders were done with the reason unknown, 2,614 killings were committed during another felony, 842 were related to gang activity, and 2,330 were committed for other reasons including money, hate and jealousy.

In a study performed by Kirk R. Williams and Robert L. Flewelling [i]they reasoned that a subculture of violence and strain along with social control are used to explain why people commit homicides. Violent culture can be defined as intense interpersonal conflicts, these conflicts are more accepted in some groups or in some regions of a society, in these places the use of force or violence in settling one’s disagreement or just getting one’s own way are more acceptable.

Everyone has the opportunity to kill someone, but for most people this is the last option, if it is even an option at all. In a subculture of violence not only is it an option but it is generally conceived as the first choice. The more that violence becomes part of society; there will be a greater amount of conflicts between people. Also, the more violent a community is, will increase the chance those conflicts a will result in murder. When people live in conditions of extreme scarcity, the struggle for survival is intensified, when these conditions are met it is an often response that one would feel anger and anxiety, these feelings can easily provoke physical aggression in conflict situations. Both of these ideas help to show why most of the murders that take