Looking for a local angle in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, the Columbia Missourian settled on the one featured in its headline, “Report: Missouri 10th in the nation for women killed by men in 2015.”
According to reporter Tynan Stewart, “In Missouri, 47 women were killed by men in 2015, a rate of 1.52 per 100,000 women. This puts Missouri 10th nationwide, in a tie with New Mexico.” Had Stewart looked at the statistics more broadly, he would have realized he was making a case for Missouri as relatively safe for women, but he did not. More on this in a minute.
Having established Missouri’s unusually high rate for murdered women, Stewart wanders off in search of an explanation. He doesn’t wander far before finding Colleen Coble, CEO of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Coble assures Stewart, as paraphrased, that “Missouri’s high ranking is directly related to the lack of state laws that would keep guns away from people with a history of domestic violence.”
There may be a case to be made for such a law, but it cannot be made on the basis of such a bogus statistical interpretation. Let us go back to the fact that Missouri tied with New Mexico for tenth place at 1.52 women murdered per 100,000. In 2015, there were 5.6 people murdered per 100,000 in New Mexico. More than one out of every four people murdered in New Mexico was a woman.
In Missouri, there were 8.3 murder victims per 100,000. Less than one in every five people murdered in Missouri was a woman. In 2015, Missouri had the third highest murder rate per capita but only the tenth highest rate for women. A more useful question to ask is why so relatively few women are murdered in such a murderous state.
The real question for Stewart to ask is why so many people are murdered in Missouri. In 2016, the murder rate shot up to 8.8 per 100,000, securing Missouri a firm second place behind Mississippi and a 33 percent increase in just two years. Stewart might ask why a Missourian is six times more likely to be murdered than a resident of Maine or New Hampshire, and the answer is not guns, and the answer is not the weather.