Firearms violence within the Hispanic community across the United States is dramatically understudied. A review of the limited national data available, as well as the three “snapshots” contained in this study, clearly demonstrates that guns disproportionately affect Hispanics in America. Yet because of severe data limitations, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fully gauge the toll guns are exacting on Hispanics. Such information is essential to develop effective public health interventions.
Discerning the true price Hispanics pay in gun death and injury gains heightened importance in light of gun industry plans to target Hispanics – with their growing numbers and history of low gun ownership – as a new, “untapped” market.
To more fully gauge the effect firearms have on the Hispanic community and to help identify ways to reduce gun death and injury among Hispanics, the Violence Policy Center offers this initial set of recommendations:
- State and local surveillance programs (public health, law enforcement, etc.) should review their data-gathering forms to ensure that Hispanic ethnicity is easily tabulated. The Federal Bureau of Investigation should work with state Uniform Crime Report systems to identify ways in which criminal incidents involving Hispanics (as both victim and offender) can be more accurately reported.
- The National Vital Statistics Report should review the possibility of expanding beyond black and white as their major categories in its analyses to include Hispanic ethnicity.
- All published federal level survey results (for example, the National Crime Victimization Survey and Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey) should be reviewed to identify specific studies or portions of studies that could be published in Spanish.
- National, state, and local organizations working to reduce gun death and injury should work with Hispanic communities in organizing and applying data- gathering regarding Hispanic violence and firearms. Such data could then be utilized by community organizations to help design violence-reduction programs and help guide the efforts of coalitions working to reduce gun death and injury.