Nearly 54,000 Hispanics Killed With Guns in U.S. Since 1999, Two Thirds of Deaths are Homicides, Study Finds

For Release: Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Each year on average more than 3,100 Hispanics are killed with guns

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Washington, DC — Nearly 54,000 Hispanics were killed with guns in the United States from 1999 through 2015, with an average of more than 3,100 gun deaths per year, according to a new study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).

The study finds that the overall homicide victimization rate for Hispanics is nearly double the homicide victimization rate for whites. In 2015, 70 percent of Hispanic homicide victims died by gunfire. For Hispanics ages 15 to 24, homicide ranked as the second leading cause of death. Hispanics were also more likely to be killed by strangers.

Hispanic Victims of Lethal Firearms Violence in the United States (http://vpc.org/studies/hispanic18.pdf) is the fourth edition of the VPC’s annual comprehensive study on lethal gun violence against Hispanics in America. It is based on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as unpublished information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report.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 is available in both English and Spanish.

The study found that of the 53,788 Hispanics killed with guns from 1999 through 2015, two thirds of the gun deaths were homicides (35,553, or 66 percent), while 15,593 were suicides (29 percent). An additional 981 gun deaths were unintentional (two percent) and 1,661 (three percent) died of undetermined intent or legal intervention.

The study also recommends that government agencies improve the way they 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 the study reports.

“The lethal toll of gun violence on Hispanics, especially young Hispanics is an ongoing crisis. Yet because of vast gaps in the way data is collected, not only is the full scope of this crisis unknown, but our ability to effectively address it is handicapped,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Those working to reduce violence in their communities, from local advocates to policymakers, need the best information available not only to better understand the issues they’re facing, but also identify the most effective violence prevention approaches.”

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 2015 was 5.10 per 100,000. In comparison, the homicide victimization rate for whites was 2.59 per 100,000.

■ Homicide is the second leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 24. For whites in that age group, homicide is the fourth-leading cause of death, and for blacks it is the leading cause of death.

■ Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 24. For whites in that age group, suicide is the second-leading cause of death, and for blacks it is the third-leading cause of death.

■ In 2015, 3,332 Hispanics were killed with guns. That year, 2,021 Hispanics died in gun homicides, 1,162 died in gun suicides, 37 died in unintentional shootings, and 112 died of undetermined intent or legal intervention.

■ Of the 2,021 Hispanic firearm homicide victims in 2015, 1,761 (87 percent) were male and 260 (13 percent) were female.

■ In 2015, guns were used in 70 percent of the homicides where the victims were Hispanic.

■ Sixty-eight percent of Hispanic gun homicide victims were killed with a handgun.

■ Hispanic victims are more likely to be killed by a stranger than the national average. For 2015, when the victim-to-offender relationship could be identified, 39 percent of Hispanic homicide victims were killed by a stranger. Nationwide, 25 percent of all homicide victims were killed by strangers.

■ A large percentage of Hispanic homicide victims are young. Thirty-five percent of Hispanic victims in 2015 were age 24 and younger. In comparison, 37 percent of black homicide victims and 20 percent of white homicide victims were age 24 and younger that year.

■ Because of limitations in the way data is collected, the total number of Hispanic victims is almost certainly higher than the reported numbers suggest. Government agencies often report data on race but not on ethnic origin. Fully documenting and understanding the victimization of Hispanics in the United States is the crucial first step toward preventing such deaths.

The study recommends government agencies that collect data on death and injury should obtain complete information on the ethnic origin of individuals in addition to their race in order to ensure complete and accurate data collection on Hispanic victims of lethal violence.

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, along with a list of additional recommendations on improving the reporting of violence against Hispanics, can be found here: http://vpc.org/studies/hispanic18.pdf

The complete report in Spanish can be found here: http://vpc.org/studies/hispanicesp18.pdf

Prior editions of the report can be found here: www.vpc.org/hispanic.htm

 

 

 

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

 

Media Contact:
Sally Martinelli
(202) 822-8200 x104
smartinelli@vpc.org