Nearly 70,000 Hispanics Have Died by Gunfire in U.S. Since 1999, Nearly Two-Thirds of the Deaths are Homicides, Study Finds

— More than 4,000 Hispanics were killed by guns in 2019 —

WASHINGTON, DC — July 28, 2021 — (LATINX NEWSWIRE) — Nearly 70,000 Hispanics were killed with guns in the United States from 1999 through 2019, with an average of more than 3,300 gun deaths per year, according to a new study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury.

In 2019, 74 percent of Hispanic homicide victims died by gunfire. Looking at type of firearm, 66 percent of Hispanic gun homicide victims were killed with a handgun — the highest percentage of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. For Hispanics ages 15 to 24, homicide ranked as the third leading cause of death.

Hispanic Victims of Lethal Firearms Violence in the United States (http://vpc.org/studies/hispanic21.pdf) is the fifth edition of the VPC’s comprehensive study on lethal gun violence against Hispanics in America and is available in both English and Spanish. The study utilizes data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as unpublished information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report.


The study found that of the 69,519 Hispanics killed with firearms from 1999 through 2019, nearly two thirds of these gun deaths were homicides (44,614, or 64 percent), while 21,466 were suicides (31 percent). An additional 1,182 of these gun deaths were unintentional (two percent) and 2,257 (three percent) were the result of undetermined intent or legal intervention.

VPC Executive Director and study co-author Josh Sugarmann states, “Year after year, guns exact a lethal toll on Hispanics in the U.S., especially among the young. Yet because of vast gaps in the way data on Hispanic ethnicity is collected in our nation, the full scope of this ongoing crisis remains unknown. What we do know is that all too many Hispanic lives are lost to lethal violence each year, and that guns, especially handguns, play a deciding role.”

KEY FINDINGS OF THE STUDY INCLUDE:

— The homicide rate for Hispanics in the United States is nearly twice as high as the homicide 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.

— Homicide is the third leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 24. Of these deaths, 87 percent involved a firearm.

— Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 24. Of these deaths, 37 percent involved a firearm.

— In 2019, 4,058 Hispanics were killed with guns. That year, 2,301 Hispanics died in gun homicides, 1,534 died in gun suicides, 60 died in unintentional shootings, and 163 died of undetermined intent or legal intervention.

— Of the 2,301 Hispanic firearm homicide victims in 2019, 1,955 (85 percent) were male and 346 (15 percent) were female.

— In 2019, guns were used in 74 percent of the homicides where the victims were Hispanic. Looking at type of firearm, 66 percent of Hispanic gun homicide victims were killed with a handgun, the highest percentage of any racial/ethnic group in U.S.

— A large percentage of Hispanic homicide victims are young. Thirty-three percent of Hispanic victims in 2019 were age 24 and younger. In comparison, 34 percent of Black homicide victims and 19 percent of white homicide victims were age 24 and younger that year. For all victims, 29 percent of homicide victims were age 24 or younger.

RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE STUDY INCLUDE:

— Government agencies should improve the methods used to collect and report data on Hispanic victims of gun violence and other lethal violence. Because of major limitations in the way public agencies collect information on Hispanic ethnicity, the total number of Hispanic victims of lethal violence is almost certainly higher than what this study reports.

— Additional efforts should be undertaken to support current violence reduction programs and activities as well as to identify new violence-reduction strategies, including: support for community-based violence intervention programs that are holistic and encourage participation by all stakeholders; educational efforts to better inform Hispanics of the risks associated with bringing a firearm into the home including the increased risk for homicide, suicide, and unintentional firearm deaths compared to how rarely guns are used in justifiable homicides by private citizens (especially important in the face of current coordinated efforts by the gun industry targeting Hispanics as potential first-time gun buyers); improved access to resources for victims and survivors of domestic violence; and, identification of anti-trafficking measures to help interrupt the flow of illegal firearms to impacted communities.

The homicide victimization rate for Hispanics is calculated by dividing the total number of homicides with Hispanic victims by the total Hispanic population and multiplying the result by 100,000. The study does not include Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories.

The complete report in English can be found here.

The complete report in Spanish can be found here.

Prior editions of the report in both English and Spanish, as well as VPC research focusing on lethal Hispanic victimization in California, can be found at www.vpc.org/hispanic.htm.

For more information on how the firearms industry, looking to expand beyond its shrinking base of white male gun owners, has launched an organized marketing campaign focusing on Hispanic and Black Americans, please see the January 2021 Violence Policy Center study How the Firearms Industry and NRA Market Guns to Communities of Color (https://vpc.org/how-the-firearms-industry-and-nra-market-guns-to-communities-of-color/).

The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter and Facebook.