Bill Cosby Was Right: ‘Very Strong’ Statistical Link Between Fatherlessness, Gun Homicides

Barbara Hollingsworth | September 12, 2013 | 12:49pm EDT
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(AP Photo/Robert Ray)

( – Growing up without a father has a far greater statistical correlation to gun violence than most sociological factors, including poverty and gun ownership, a statistical analysis of gun homicides in the U.S. shows.

“Recent mass murders have given rise to a call for gun control, for the restriction of gun sales. The argument is that fewer guns would result in fewer murders. The data imply otherwise,” concluded Dr. Frederick Costello, an engineering consultant in Virginia, after analyzing firearm-related murders committed in all 50 states in 2010 at the request of state Delegate Ken Plum (D-36th). Virginia is one of 41 “shall issue” states that require authorities to issue gun permits to all qualified applicants.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, Costello determined that the top three factors that correlate most strongly with gun homicides are growing up in a black community, not having a father present, and dropping out of high school – “the very factors that Bill Cosby has been discussing,” he pointed out.

Although the data shows the strongest correlation between race and gun-related homicide, Costello warned that it was more about the socioeconomic conditions in which many African American youngsters are raised. “This is certainly not about having black skin,” he told

“Some of the black-race effect is due to the number that are single parents,” he pointed out, including the fact that fatherless black youngsters are statistically “much less likely to graduate from high school than are members of other races.”

Being a high school dropout has a higher statistical correlation with gun-related homicide than owning a gun, Costello found. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of African American children are raised in homes without their biological fathers present, compared to 33 percent of all children in America.

Other factors such as poverty, respect for life as measured by the abortion rate, the high population density in urban areas, and self defense all “weakly correlated with gun murders,” the data indicated.

In a 2010 interview with the Associated Press, Cosby bemoaned the large numbers of young black people in their teens and early 20s who had been murdered with firearms, including  his only son, Ennis. The Columbia University doctoral student was shot to death in 1997 during an attempted robbery while changing a flat tire on a Los Angeles freeway ramp.

Bill Cosby (AP photo)

“It’s important that we look at these murders and find out why, and [what’s] behind them,” Cosby pointed out. “Dr. [Alvin] Poussaint and I have found that it’s because children are born and they’re coming up and they don’t have an idea of who clearly is the biological person, the father or the mother, and sometimes both. And this hurts. And then there’s the old saying, ‘Hurt people hurt people',’" the veteran actor and comedian said.

Cosby and Poussaint, a psychiatrist, were co-authors of a 2007 book, “Come On People: On the Path From Victims to Victors” in which they wrote: “No matter how useless or hopeless a father may think he is, his role is simply to be there.”

When he began the statistical analysis, Costello said, “I had no idea how it was going to come out.” He told CNSNews that he was “surprised” that there are actually more homicides in areas with higher levels of restrictive gun laws and higher levels of religious observance. “Perhaps where there are more gun murders, people pray more,” he speculated.

However, he added that the data strongly indicates that gun control will not have the desired effect of reducing firearm-related homicides, which account for approximately 65 percent of all murders in the U.S.

“As Bill Cosby has said, getting black children to finish high school, get a job, and stay married to the mother of their children would address all three of these issues,” Costello added. “All children, not only black children, would benefit from this strategy; gun murders would then decrease.”

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