The homicide victimization rate for Hispanics is more than twice as high as the murder rate for whites, according to a new study on Hispanic victims of lethal firearms violence in the United States.
The study, released by the Violence Policy Center, also shows that homicide is the second leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 24. In addition, the study found more than two-thirds of Hispanic murder victims are killed with guns.
Hispanic Victims of Lethal Firearms Violence in the United States is a comprehensive study on 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 It is based on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as unpublished information from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report.
In total, the study found more than 38,000 Hispanics were killed by guns between 1999 and 2010, including 26,349 homicide victims killed with guns and 10,314 gun suicides. The report also found that Hispanic victims are more likely to be killed by a stranger than the national average.
Importantly, the actual number of Hispanic victims is almost certainly higher than the number reported in the study, due to major shortcomings in the way public agencies collect information on Hispanic ethnicity. The study recommends that government agencies improve the way they collect and report data on Hispanic victims of lethal violence.
Our report shows that Americas gun violence epidemic has a disproportionate impact on the Hispanic community, states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. This epidemic of violence is destroying lives and tearing families apart. Preventing gun violence should be an urgent priority for all public officials from community leaders to members of Congress.
These are the main facts of the study:
- In 2010, the most recent year for which comprehensive CDC data is available, the homicide victimization rate for Hispanics in the United States was 5.73 per 100,000. In comparison, the homicide victimization rate for whites was 2.52 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.
- Most Hispanic murder victims are killed with guns. Guns are used in more than two-thirds of the homicides where victims are Hispanic. In homicides where a gun is used, 78 percent of these shootings involve a handgun.
- More than 38,000 Hispanics were killed by guns between 1999 and 2010. During this period, 26,349 Hispanics died in gun homicides, 10,314 died in gun suicides, and 747 died in unintentional shootings.
- Hispanic victims are more likely to be killed by a stranger than the national average. The latest FBI data from 2011 shows that when the victim-to-offender relationship could be identified, 39 percent of Hispanic victims were killed by a stranger. Nationwide, 25 percent of all homicide victims were killed by strangers.
- A large percentage of Hispanic homicide victims are young. The most recent available data shows 41 percent of Hispanic homicide victims in 2011 were age 24 and younger, compared to 40 percent of black homicide victims and 22 percent of white victims.
- 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.