State gets a high rank on killing list

PENNSYLVANIA ranked third among all 50 states in the murder rate of black residents, in a study released yesterday by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center.

Based on the latest FBI data, from 2009, the city's "Black Homicide Victimization Rate" was 28.30 per 100,000 - six times the national rate - and 85 percent were gunshot victims.

"You can't start talking about reducing the rate of homicide victimization without talking about the role played by firearms," center executive director Josh Sugarmann, who co-authored the study, told the Daily News yesterday.

Pennsylvania's rate of black homicides - ranking behind only Missouri and Michigan - has been consistently higher than that of New Jersey, Delaware and New York. Sugarmann attributed that to Pennsylvania's lack of controls beyond federal firearm standards and the state's refusal to allow communities to enact their own firearms laws.

For J. Whyatt Mondesire, local NAACP president, the problem of black homicide victims has posed a significant challenge.

"I'm at my wit's end looking for solutions to this problem," said Mondesire, who has tried to reduce gun violence by speaking at schools.

Mondesire said that reaching black parents is an even more difficult, although necessary, task.

"It starts in the home," he said.

"There's a whole lot of parenting that's not going on."