More than 47,000 Hispanics Killed With Guns Over 15 Years in U.S., Study Finds

For Release: Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More than 3,000 Hispanics per year are killed with guns; two-thirds of Hispanic gun deaths are homicides

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Washington, DC — More than 47,000 Hispanics were killed with guns in the United States from 1999 through 2013, with an average of more than 3,000 gun deaths per year, according to a new study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).

Hispanic Victims of Lethal Firearms Violence in the United States is the second 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 It is based on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as unpublished information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report.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 47,446 Hispanics killed with guns from 1999 through 2013, approximately two thirds of the gun deaths were homicides (31,800, or 67 percent), while 13,317 were suicides (28 percent). An additional 896 gun deaths were unintentional (two percent), and 1,433 died in other circumstances, including legal intervention and undetermined intent.

The study finds that the overall homicide victimization rate for Hispanics is nearly double the homicide victimization rate for whites. More than two thirds of Hispanic homicide victims die by gunfire.

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 even higher than what the study reports.

“While the lethal impact of gun violence on the Hispanic community, especially young Hispanics, is clear, we need improved data collection in order to better understand the problem and address it,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “At the same time, community leaders and policymakers deserve our strong and continued support as they work to address this crisis.”

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 2013 was 4.75 per 100,000. In comparison, the homicide victimization rate for whites was 2.50 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.
  • In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, 2,951 Hispanics were killed with guns. That year, 1,750 Hispanics died in gun homicides, 1,034 died in gun suicides, 49 died in unintentional shootings, and 118 died in other circumstances, including legal intervention and undetermined intent.
  • Guns are used in more than two thirds of the homicides where the victims are Hispanic. Seventy-two 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.The latest FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data from 2012 shows that when the victim-to-offender relationship could be identified, 36 percent of Hispanic homicide victims were killed by a stranger. Nationwide, 26 percent of all homicide victims were killed by strangers.
  • A large percentage of Hispanic homicide victims are young. The most recent available data shows 37 percent of Hispanic victims in 2012 were age 24 and younger. In comparison, 38 percent of black homicide victims and 21 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 the victimization of Hispanics in the United States is the crucial first step toward preventing it.

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://www.vpc.org/studies/hispanic15.pdf

The complete report in Spanish can be found here: http://www.vpc.org/studies/hispanicesp15.pdf

Media Contact:
Felicia Feingersch
(202) 822-8200 x104
ffeingersch@vpc.org