Birmingham, Alabama has 53 Times the National Average of Justifiable Homicides


Birmingham, Alabama has 53 times the National Average of Justifiable Homicides – Image courtesy Dean Weingarten

Arizona -( In 2019, Birmingham, Alabama has reported a justifiable homicide rate 53 times the national average, as reported in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports.


11 of the reported homicides were ruled justifiable as self-defense by investigators or prosecutors and 3 resulted from reckless driving. The suspect in another murder was shot to death on the scene and another killed himself. One death resulted from a violent act committed the previous year. One other homicide took place at the Jefferson County Jail outside the city’s jurisdiction. The police department, therefore, acknowledges 82 chargeable homicides. Suspects have been identified in 49 of those cases, arrested in 46 and charged in 41. Charges in one case were dismissed.

Justifiable homicides are severely under-reported in the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics (UCR).  At least two studies indicate there are over five times as many justifiable homicides in the United States as indicated in the FBI UCR numbers. The UCR uses a very restrictive definition of justifiable homicide.

When justifiable homicides are carefully tracked, there are found to be more than five times as many as the FBI UCR records.

From a previous article:

Homicides in the United States in 2018, from the FBI UCR. 16,214.   The number of justifiable homicides by private citizens was recorded at 353.  The population in the United States was estimated at 327.2 million. The rate of reported justified homicides in the U.S.A. was .108 per 100,000 population. The murder rate in the United States in 2018 was 5.0 per 100,000 population.

The Detroit rate of recorded justifiable homicides is 25 times the recorded national rate of justified homicides. Detroit’s murder rate is 7.76 time that of the United States. Using the murder rate as a scale, Detroit has recorded 3.2 times as many justifiable homicides per murder, as are recorded in the United States, on average.

In Birmingham, Alabama, in 2019 through December 2nd, there were 11 justifiable homicides and 82 chargeable homicides. 11 out of 93 is just short of 12%, 11.8%. Birmingham is recorded as having a population of 209,880.  That would make a corrected murder rate of 43.4 per 100,000 this year (per year), and a justified homicide rate of 5.7 per 100,000 (per year) in 2019, so far. The justified homicide rate in Birmingham is 53 times the national average for justifiable homicides as reported in the FBI UCR. Birmingham’s murder rate in 2019, so far, is about 8.7 times the national average.

Gary Kleck  #ad (page 111-114) estimates justifiable homicides are between 7.1 and 12.9 percent of total homicides. The 11.8% reported in Birmingham falls near the top of that range.

Birmingham Alabama is having 1 justifiable homicide per 7.45 chargeable homicides. Suspects have been identified in 49 of 82 chargeable homicides. It is unknown how many of the other 33 “chargeable” homicides might be justifiable if all the actors were found and carefully investigated.

Most homicides are criminals killing criminals. Just because you have been convicted of a crime, does not mean you have lost your right to self-defense.

Criminals have significant incentives not to report the incident. Even if found to be justified, they may go to jail for a probation violation or a violation of the prohibition on felons possessing firearms.

Most people who defend themselves from criminal attack are not intent on killing someone. They are intent on protecting themselves and others. This natural bias, combined with the fact that only a bit more than 7% of the adult population have carry permits in the United States, means more people will be victims of murder than there will be attackers justifiably killed.

It does not mean there will be more people murdered than people who are saved through defensive gun uses.  Many more murders are likely stopped through defensive gun uses than are killed in justifiable homicides.

Justifiable homicides are a very small fraction of defensive gun uses, probably less than one-tenth of one percent. Several surveys show national defensive gun uses at between 500,000 and three million per year.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.