Latinos in the United States are disproportionately affected by firearms violence, according to a new study by the Violence Policy Center that analyzed data from 1999 to 2019.
“The homicide victimization rate for Hispanics in the United States is nearly twice as high as the homicide victimization rate for whites. The Hispanic homicide victimization rate in 2019 was 5.15 per 100,000. In comparison, the homicide victimization rate for whites was 2.62 per 100,000,” the study said.
One of the findings is that nearly 70,000 Latinos were killed with guns in the U.S. from 1999 through 2019 and during this period, 44,614 Latinos died in gun homicides, 21,466 died in gun suicides, and 1,182 died in unintentional shootings.
This situation has affected Latino youth the most. In 2019, 33% of Latino homicide victims were age 24 and younger. In comparison, 34% of Black homicide victims and 19% of white homicide victims were age 24 and younger that year.
The use and traffic of firearms play a key role in homicides against Latinos as well as suicides. Experts who conducted the study say these data and numbers could be higher. They recommend that states with a high population of Latino residents issue special reports on victimization and deaths, due to the overall lack of data.
“The fact that because they use the term Hispanic in data gathering for the data that we use, but because it’s an ethnicity, not a race, we know for a fact these numbers are lower than the real numbers in the real world. One of the important aspects that we raise is that we need better data collection on Latino lethal victimization in the U.S.” Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center told Latino Rebels on Wednesday.
The lack of data is proportional to the lack of data to address the problem. That’s why the Violence Policy Center also recommended increased action by the different agencies in charge of controlling illegal arms trafficking and violence prevention programs, especially more vulnerable communities.
“A most important aspect of this issue right now, and why we do it, is to generate greater public awareness. Regarding gun violence in Latinos in the United States, it is an ongoing crisis that is not receiving the attention it deserves outside of impacted communities. It’s something that needs to receive the attention and the activities to begin addressing it immediately,” Sugarmann said.
Juanita Ramos Ardila is a Colombian journalist who has written for El Tiempo and ColPrensa. An M.A. Journalism candidate at CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, Juanita is also Latino Rebels’ 2021 Summer Correspondent. Twitter: @JuanitaRamosA.