Random Stuff

I was wondering about the methods used in homicides. I found these data for murder victims at infoplease, and plotted them using plot.ly. The numbers for murder exclude non-criminal homicides, such as accidents and legal interventions.
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The most striking—though not surprising—thing about this graph is the much higher rate of homicides that involve a firearm, and also the dramatic variation in gun homicides since the mid-1970s. Guns are quite lethal, of course, but they also appear to be sensitive to other factors. For example, during the crack epidemic years of 1984-1989, homicides more than doubled among young black men, which may be a partial explanation for the spike during those years shown here.

The only other weapon that shows any degree of variation is the decline in popularity of cutting/stabbing. Today this weapon is responsible for fewer than half the number homicides as in 1980.

(Posted March 14, 2016. Additional text added on March 27, 2016.)