Posted on January 17, 2013

Top 10 Reasons Why Communities of Color Should Care About Stricter Gun-Violence Prevention Laws

Morriah Kaplan and Sophia Kerby, American Progress, January 17, 2013

{snip} While the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is perhaps one of the most appalling instances of gun violence we have ever seen, it was far removed from the kind of gun violence that is both more common and more lethal in the United States today. Acts of gun violence take approximately 30,000 American lives every year, and gun violence is one of the leading causes of death among teens. {snip}

As the following facts show, communities and families of color disproportionately suffer from gun violence. Here are 10 reasons why communities of color have a great stake in the public discourse on violence prevention.

1. People of color account for the majority of gun-violence victims. There are large racial disparities in homicide rates due to gun violence. The gun-homicide rate for black males is 2.4 times as high as that of Latino males, and it is 15.3 times as high as the rate for non-Hispanic white males. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter victims are most frequently black or Latino, with blacks comprising 67 percent of victims and Latinos comprising 28.1 percent. Blacks make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, but in 2010 — the last year for which data is available — they suffered 56 percent of all firearm homicides.

2. Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death for teens of color. Guns cause the deaths of thousands of teens each year. In 2008 and 2009 gun homicide was the leading cause of death among black teens, and the rates of gun-related deaths are highest for black male teens. For black families, the chance of a male child dying from a gunshot wound is 62 percent higher than the chance of him dying in a motor-vehicle crash. In 2010 American Indian male teens had the second-highest rate of gun-related deaths, with 19.3 gun-related deaths per 100,000 teens. Latino male teens followed, with 17.8 per 100,000. In contrast,white male teens had the second-lowest rate, with only 9.4 per 100,000.

3. Gun violence is a vicious cycle. {snip}

4. Gun injuries disproportionately affect communities of color. Of the 34,347 children and teens who suffered gun injuries in the United States in 2008 and 2009, almost half were black, and more than one-fifth were Latino. Black teens alone are 25 times more likely to be injured by a gun than white teens.

5. People of color strongly support gun-violence prevention. As people of color suffer higher rates of gun violence, it is not surprising that they strongly support stricter gun laws. Forty-nine percent of people of color are in favor of stricter gun-violence prevention.

6. The militarization of school safety and orderliness most heavily impacts children of color. In the wake of recent school shootings, members of the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun lobby, have suggested putting armed police officers in every school. But research shows that increased police presence in schools disproportionately affects youth of color, driving the school-to-prison pipeline and leading to youths’ unnecessary involvement in the justice system. {snip} Black boys in particular are three times more likely to be suspended than white boys, and black girls are four times more likely to be suspended than white girls.

7. Gun violence is concentrated in urban and poor neighborhoods, which tend to be populated predominately by people of color. In 2006 and 2007 the 62 center cities of America’s 50 largest metro areas accounted for only 15 percent of the population but 39 percent of gun-related murders. This ratio is only growing: In 2011 there were record highs of gun violence in cities such as Chicago and Detroit. {snip}

8. The cost of gun violence is a significant burden on the health care system. Firearm-related injuries generally require hospitalization and significant emergency center resources. In 2005 U.S hospitals charged $108.4 million to care for about 10,000 victims of firearm injuries. {snip}

9. Gun violence poses a significant cost to society. Once all the direct and indirect medical, legal, and societal costs are added together, the annual cost of gun violence in America amounts to roughly $100 billion. According to studies done at the University of Chicago, every crime-related gunshot wound imposes costs on society to the order of $1 million. {snip}

10. A two-sided approach, including better background checks and prevention programs, is crucial. {snip}