The big shocking fact: The vast majority of homicides are either white-on-white (43%) or black-on-black (40%). Consistent with stereotypes, white-on-black homicide is rare - 3% of the total. But contrary to stereotypes, black-on-white homicide is also rare - 7% of the total. In fact, since blacks are roughly 13% of the U.S. population, black-on-white homicides are almost exactly as common as you'd expect if black murderers randomly selected their victims from the U.S. population. Murder is overwhelmingly intra-racial.
The results for gender look entirely different:
Sex of Victim
Now, male-on-male (61%) and male-on-female homicides (26%) predominate. Female-on-female homicides are almost invisible - just 2% of the total. Women are over three times as likely to kill men as women.
1. Gender patterns elegantly fit stereotypes: men commit almost all homicides, and women almost never kill each other.
2. Racial patterns, in contrast, often clash with stereotypes. Whites have little to fear from blacks, and blacks have even less to fear from whites.
3. Racial stereotypes would probably be more accurate if you focused solely on homicides between strangers. But these are rare. Our focus on such crimes probably reflects the illusion of control; since we personally control who we associate with, we imagine that our associates pose no threat.
4. Prediction: The results by nativity closely mimic the racial results. When natives think about immigrant crime, they picture immigrant-on-native crime, rather than the statistically predominant immigrant-on-immigrant crime. Testing my prediction against aggregate statistics is welcome in the comments; testing it against recent media circuses is not.
5. Yes, the government decides whether its own homicides are "justifiable." But even if you count all "justifiable homicides" by the authorities as cold-blooded murder, they won't change the overall numbers much. There are only about 400 such killings per year. Allegedly justifiable homicides by private citizens are even rarer - about 300 per year.
The overall lesson: Contrary to bipartisan fear-mongering, don't worry about getting killed by members of other races, police, or gun nuts. Turn your fear inwards. Worry about young males of your own race - because that's where the danger is.
Update: On Twitter, Alex Tabarrok and Josiah Neeley point out serious problems with the FBI's statistics on number of people killed by the authorities.