Hispanics and Firearms Violence
The impact of firearms death and injury on the Hispanic community is rarely discussed in the debate over gun violence in the United States, yet Americans of Hispanic heritage are disproportionately affected by firearms when compared to the population as a whole. The reasons for this damaging omission are varied. Foremost is the crippling lack of data due to severe limitations of current surveillance systems. Another reason is that the devastating effect of firearms on blacks in America has caused less attention to be paid to the effect of guns on other minority communities. Yet, while firearms violence among Hispanics has received limited attention among the public, press, and policymakers, this segment of society has consistently paid a disproportionately high price in gun death and injury�regardless of whether overall gun death rates are increasing, or decreasing.
are the fastest growing and the youngest racial/ethnic group in the
United States. In 1999 there were approximately 31,365,000 Hispanics
in the United States, with an average age of 28.8 years.1
The Hispanic population in the United States is growing several times
faster than the non-Hispanic population�more than doubling between 1980
and 1999. The Census Bureau estimates that by the year 2005 Hispanics
will surpass blacks as the largest minority group in the United States.2
(See Chart 1) This fact has not gone unnoticed by the gun industry.
Chart 1: Data from www.census.gov.
Only recently has the term "Hispanic" been added to the definitions used by public health officials in their data-gathering, allowing for improved analysis and comparison with other racial and ethnic groups. Although more information on the Hispanic population of the United States is available than ever before, it is still incomplete, with many crucial gaps waiting to be filled.
Increased understanding of the effect guns have on Hispanics is important not only because of the high price being paid today in death and injury, but also because future lives will be lost if the gun industry succeeds in its marketing plans. The goal of this study is to present the available data on Hispanics and firearms violence in the United States and is organized as follows:
a) The term "Hispanic" is defined as "a person who describes himself or herself as Mexican American, Chicano, Mexican, Mexicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American, South American, or from some other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race." Definition from Adam Dobrin et al., Statistical Handbook on Violence in America (Phoenix: The Oryx Press, 1996): 360.
All contents � 2001 Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.