Aug 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Latinos twice as likely as white people to die from gunfire

Percentage of U.S. firearm homicides involving handguns, by victims’ race/ethnicity, 2019
Data: Violence Policy Center; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Nearly 3,000 Latinos each year have died from gunfire in the United States over the last two decades, making them twice as likely to be shot to death than white non-Hispanics, according to a study from the Violence Policy Center.

By the numbers: Almost 70,000 Latinos were killed with firearms between 1999 and 2019, 66% of them in homicides, according to the center’s data analysis.

  • The nonprofit found that in 2019 there were 5.15 Latino victims of homicides per 100,000 people, nearly double the rate of 2.62 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic white people.
  • Latinos were also more likely to be killed by strangers in circumstances like arguments or alcohol-related brawls, per the center, which advocates for gun control.

Yes, but: Latino communities are divided on gun control: A Pew survey from 2020 found 80% of Latinos who identify as Democrats favor stricter gun laws, compared to 42% who identify as Republicans.

Between the lines: The yearly rise in reported firearm incidents involving Latinos stems from campaigns that encourage them to buy guns, a separate analysis from the center found.

  • Some bought arms for self protection after a man drove to a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, with the expressed intention of killing "Mexicans." He is charged with killing 23 people, eight of them Mexican nationals, and wounding nearly two dozen more.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, a day after the second anniversary of that mass shooting, Mexico’s government filed a lawsuit against 10 gun manufacturers in the U.S.

  • Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said firearm companies have contributed to the mass bloodshed of Mexicans at the hands of drug cartels, since they use guns legally purchased in the U.S.and illegally smuggled across the border.

Yes, but: The lawsuit is mostly symbolic, since the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act safeguards the industry from almost all civil liability.

Of note: The Violence Policy Center study analyzed official databases, but its authors stress that the actual numbers "of Hispanic victims of gun violence is almost certainly higher than" reported.

  • Relevant agencies rarely capture reliable data on ethnicity, like Latinidad, and not all government reports include information beyond racial data.
  • Polls also show Latinos are less inclined to report crimes they witnessed or were victims of, either because of immigration status or general wariness towards officers.

Go deeper: An undercount of Latinos killed by police

Listen to Marina discuss the lawsuit on Axios Today.

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