Last week I wrote about some statistics on homicide that I’d found on a website called kaggle.com, and I had a lot of fun doing that. This week I thought I’d squeeze that data a little more. I beg for your indulgence. Next week we will talk about something more pleasant, I promise.
Last week I wrote that 90 percent of the homicides in this country (when both the sex of the perpetrator and victim are known) are committed by men, and under the same constraints, 75 percent of the victims are men. Men are the primary killers and the primary victims. Overall, handguns are the weapon of choice (46 percent) with knives and blunt objects coming in second and third with 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Having watched my share of crime procedurals, I looked for a category where the CSI could say, “It was most likely a woman who did this.” There isn’t one. Men are the killers. There is one category that is basically a coin toss, and I will get to that.
Women were responsible for only 10 percent of the homicides during the period from 1980 to 2014.
Do they kill differently? Well, kinda. If we look only at the incidents wherein women were the perpetrators, the top three weapons are still handguns, knives, and blunt objects, but the percentages are different. Men used handguns 50 percent of the time, but women did only 35 percent of the time; men used knives 15 percent of the time, but women used knives a wapping 28 percent of the time; men used blunt objects 11 percent of the time, and the numbers for women are almost exactly the same.
A couple of things to notice. The numbers for men are almost identical to those for the country as a whole. That is because men are doing the overwhelming bulk of the killing. That is the way math works. However, women choose knives twice as often as men do.
Here, in the spirit of Joe Blow down at the coffee shop, let me suggest that when the need for a weapon arises people use what they have at hand, and women have knives at hand more than men do. Women are traditionally much more involved in the production of family meals than are men. They become familiar with the use of kitchen knives while cutting up chicken, vegetables, or tofu. They know where those knives are, and in case of need, they are handy. Just not quite as handy as handguns. (Am I the only one thinking of Lorena Bobbit right now?)
Are there other differences? There are, but they are small as the top three weapon choices constitute three quarters of the homicides regardless of sex.
Of the homicides perpetrated by women, 2 percent were by suffocation; men only suffocated their victims 0.5 percent of the time. However, as men kill so much more often than women do, they still wound up suffocating almost twice as many people.
Is there any type of weapon that women use more in total?
Yes: Drowning. During this period of 34 years women eked out gruesome victory by drowning 507 victims to men’s 492. (When you press the data harder, this is more horrifying that mere numbers suggest, as the victims are, by and large, very young children.)
On that bleak note, I promise to write about something more cheerful next week.
— Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.