Most murder victims are criminals, not random innocents. In Baltimore 91% of murder victims were criminals. Other cities collected similar statistics.

Most crimes are not random or pointless. Most criminal activity is a violent competitive business – like gangs running drug operations.

From USA Today:

A spike in murders in many cities is claiming a startling number of victims with criminal records, police say, suggesting that drug and gang wars are behind the escalating violence.

In Milwaukee, local leaders created the homicide commission after a spike in violence led to a 39% increase in murders in 2005. The group compiled statistics on victims’ criminal histories for the first time and found that 77% of homicide victims in the past two years had an average of nearly 12 arrests.

David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says the rise in criminals killing criminals has escaped policymakers’ attention.

“The notion that these (murders) are random bolts of lightning, which is the commonly held image, is not the reality,” says Kennedy, who has examined the backgrounds of murder suspects and victims in multiple U.S. cities. “It happens, but it doesn’t happen often.”

This is true outside the United States too. In Mexico, the drug cartels went to war against each other, resulting in the deaths of many young men in the cartels but surprisingly few civilians. They even made propaganda videos (narco corridos) glorifying the slaying of rival gang-members. Police get caught up in the crossfire between gang wars because they turn it into a three-way war. No one has much of a vested interest in attacking random civilians. That actually makes things worse, since civilians are more likely to tip off police to defend themselves.

Likewise, in wars across the world, from Iraq to Africa, the casualties are disproportionately young males, many of whom were probably not innocent bystanders.