Black Americans are disproportionately affected by homicide. For the year 2019, Blacks Americans represented 14 percent of the nation’s population, yet accounted for 52 percent of all homicide victims.7
The devastation homicide inflicts on Black teens and adults is a national crisis that should be a top priority for policymakers to address. An important part of ending our nation’s gun violence epidemic will involve reducing homicides in the Black community.
At the same time, the firearms industry, looking to expand beyond its shrinking base of white male gun owners, has increased its marketing efforts targeting Black and Latino Americans.8 Such efforts can only increase gun death and injury in these communities.
In addition, individuals living in communities where violence is prevalent are at increased risk for a broad range of negative health and behavior outcomes. An increased understanding of how trauma resulting from community violence influences development, health, and behavior can lead to improvements in the way many social services are delivered as well as policy changes at the local and federal levels.9
For Black victims of homicide, like all victims of homicide, guns — usually handguns — are far and away the number-one murder tool. Successful efforts to reduce America’s Black homicide toll, like America’s homicide toll as a whole, must put a focus on reducing access and exposure to firearms.
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7 FBI Supplementary Homicide Report 2019, U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.
8 For more information, see How the Firearms Industry and NRA Market Guns to Communities of Color, Violence Policy Center, January 2021 (https://vpc.org/how-the-firearms-industry-and-nra-market-guns-to-communities-of-color-contents/).
9 For more information on trauma and community violence, see the July 2017 Violence Policy Center study The Relationship Between Community Violence and Trauma: How Violence Affects Learning, Health, and Behavior (http://www.vpc.org/studies/trauma17.pdf).