20160714 Disarm Hate Rally4238
20160714 Disarm Hate Rally4238

Gun violence disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people, yet the United States largely ignores the systemic factors driving inequality and violence in these communities. 

In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”) called out the United States’ “high number of gun-related deaths and injuries which disproportionately affect members of racial and ethnic minorities.”

And these communities are feeling that inequality. Over


of Black and Hispanic Latino Americans believe gun violence is an important issue impacting their neighborhood, compared to only 27% of white Americans.

Black Lives Matter for JJ
Black Lives Matter for JJ

Community-based groups, led by BIPOC organizers, have worked relentlessly to develop community-based solutions that successfully reduce gun violence. As an organization dedicated to preventing gun violence and saving lives, Brady is committed to doing our part to champion and bolster these grassroots, community-based efforts with upstream, systematic change.

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Gun homicide (mass shootings, so-called “everyday” violence, and police-involved shootings) is a universal American threat. However, Black people in the United States are more than twice as likely to die from gun violence and 14 times more likely than white people to be wounded.

A Black person is over 10 times more likely than a white person to die by firearm homicide. Additionally, Hispanic/Latino people are over twice as likely to be killed by firearm and Indigenous people are almost 3.5 times more likely to be killed by a firearm compared to white people.

Black and Hispanic/Latino youth are more than


times and 2.5 times more likely to die from firearm homicide than their white peers, respectively.


Young Black females (aged 15-34) specifically are over 6 times more likely to be killed by a firearm compared to their white counterparts. Young Latina females and Indigenous females (aged 15-24) are almost 1.4 and almost 3 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than their white peers, respectively.

Femicide – the homicide of women – is the leading cause of death among Black women in the U.S. (aged 14-45) and the third leading cause of death among Native women (aged 15-34).

Native and Black women experience domestic violence at rates far higher than their white counterparts. Eighty-three percent of Native women have experienced some kind of domestic violence in their lifetime – including sexual assault, stalking, physical violence, or psychological abuse. Over half (55.4%) of murdered Indigenous women are killed by an intimate partner, 38.8% of which involve a firearm. Black women are two times more likely to be killed by a spouse and four times more likely to be killed by a dating partner than white women.

Am i next

A Structural and Social Issue

Am i next

To address gun violence racial disparities, and avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes and victim-blaming, we must consider how public policy has made it so that people of color, particularly Black and Brown people, are more likely to face conditions that facilitate gun violence.

Concentrated firearm homicide is tied closely to urban poverty, which is tied to inequality, segregation, and racism.

Gun violence disparities often result from structural and economic issues. For example, white men commit the majority of mass shootings and when faced with “poverty, unemployment, and single-parent households, they are more likely to commit homicide and other violent crimes than black men confronting a similar set of structural impediments,” according to various studies.

The same cities that experience disproportionate gun homicide – Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Newark, St. Louis, Chicago – all have large, segregated Black communities with a history of disinvestment. This segregation and disinvestment didn’t happen by accident. “Deindustrialization, discriminatory housing practices, and white flight from neighborhoods as Black families moved in pushed large numbers of Black people into poverty, perpetuating economic inequalities between white and Black people.”

Today, approximately 70% of Black people living in the nation’s poorest neighborhoods are the descendants of the same families who lived there in the 1960s.

Even within cities, gun homicide is concentrated in specific areas. Yolanda Mitchell, Ph.D and Tiffany Bromfield found that Philadelphia’s safest police district, which is about 85% White had no gun homicide in 2014, while Philadelphia’s most violent district, which is about 90% Black, had 40 gun deaths that same year. Research shows that violence may concentrate in certain neighborhoods because violence begets more violence. People who are victims of violence and do not sufficiently recover are more likely to commit violence themselves. In addition to the obvious physical damage, gun violence also hurts mental health, academic attainment, economic prospects, social networks, and reputation.

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Gun violence traumatizes entire communities, and then stigmatizes that suffering.

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Black and Hispanic/Latino youth are exposed to multiple firearm homicides at a rate 20 times higher than their white peers. The continuous exposure to violence may result in multi-incident chronic trauma, which when accompanied with a difficulty to access substantial mental health care, leads to more violence. Youth exposure to gun violence has a detrimental impact on students’ education. An analysis of Washington, D.C. students’ school attendance found that if violent crime occurs within 250 feet of a student’s home, that student is 10% more likely to be absent the next day.

But poverty and structural impediments are not the only issues that cause more gun violence to Black and Brown people.

Trayvon Martin was spending time with his father in suburban Sanford, Florida when he was hunted, confronted, and executed by an armed vigilante. Philando Castile, a well-respected Supervisor, was in suburban Falcon Heights, Minnesota when he was stopped, shot, and killed by a police officer. Renisha McBride, a Ford employee and beloved daddy’s girl, was seeking help after a car accident in suburban Dearborn Heights, Michigan when she knocked on a door and was met with a gunshot.

Trayvon, Philando, Renisha, and countless others were not cut down by fatherlessness, poverty, or anything else that distracts from the uncomfortable truth that they were shot because they were Black. Racism and access to guns drives a large portion of gun violence against minorities.

  • Police Violence is Gun Violence

    Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans.

  • Despite making up only 12% of the U.S. population

    Black Americans constitute 31% of all deaths in which police officers killed a civilian.

Police violence is gun violence
Police violence is gun violence

American police kill more often than police of any other industrialized country. 

Police shootings, like other forms of gun violence, impact all people in the United States. Between 2019-2022, the number of fatal police shootings increased by nearly 10%. In 2022, there were only 15 days without an incident in which police officers shot and killed a civilian.

America’s extraordinary police shooting rate is, in part, a product of the United States’ extraordinary civilian firearm carry rate. 

A 2022 study found that when states adopt permitless concealed carry laws, the rate of fatal police shootings increases by 12.9%. Implicit bias causes officers to mistakenly perceive that unarmed Black and Hispanic/Latino civilians are carrying guns more than white people.

In the last decade, infamous police shootings like those that killed 18-year-old Michael Brown have amplified the long-held question; where can Black people be safe? Recent police-involved shootings have made answering that question even harder.

Racial justice requires not only reasonable gun regulations that make the streets safer for everyone but also community-oriented, accountable policing.

  • Botham Jean was everything America tells Black men to be: educated, gainfully employed, and active in his community. None of that mattered when a Dallas Police officer mistakenly entered Botham’s home and shot him in “self-defense.” Botham had been eating ice cream and watching TV.
  • Atatiana Jefferson, a future doctor, had also done everything “right.” Her big dreams ended when a Fort Worth Police Officer responded to a wellness check at her home. Without identifying himself as Police, the officer lurked outside Atatiana’s window before demanding she put her hands up. Fearing an intruder, Atatiana, a legal gun owner, reportedly grabbed her weapon. Within four seconds, the officer had shot Atatiana dead in front of her eight-year-old nephew with whom she had been playing video games.
  • Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old emergency room technician with dreams of being a nurse and starting a family. Her life ended suddenly when Louisville police with a “no-knock” warrant entered her apartment in the middle of the night without warning and without identifying themselves as law enforcement. Her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner fearing for their safety, fired his weapon before police fired approximately 20 shots into the apartment, killing Breonna.

Our gun-saturated country often forces officers to make split-second decisions; our race-saturated history and the policies and structures that have been developed as a result, often puts Black Americans on the wrong end of them.

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Increasing Rates of Firearm Suicide Among BIPOC Communities

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The majority of the nation’s annual gun deaths are suicides and, in 2021, 88% of firearm suicides are among white people. At first glance, this may not seem like an issue of racial justice, but in fact there is a racial connection here. In 2020, Native American/Alaskan Native males had the highest firearm suicide rate of any other race or ethnicity.

Over the past decade (2011-2020), the rate of firearm suicide among BIPOC populations has increased at a rate much higher than the rate of increase among white people. The largest rate increase was among Black people, which saw a 39.6% increase in firearm suicide rate, followed closely by AAPI people, whom experienced a 37.3% increase in the rate of gun suicides. Over the same time period, firearm suicide rates among white people increased by 11.3% nationwide.

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Over the past decade (2011-2020), the firearm suicide rate increased by 138.5%, 131.8%, and 220.0% among non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and AAPI children and teens (aged 0-17) respectively. Over the same time period, the firearm suicide rate among white children and teens (aged 0-17) increased by 39.6%.

Researchers believe that exposure to racism and adverse childhood experiences, like trauma, are partially to blame for BIPOC children’s increasing suicide attempts. For example, Black students are more likely to be funneled into the criminal justice system, as opposed to the mental health care system compared to their white counterparts. Compounded by the fact that representation of people of color among practitioners is severely limited. Only 3% of psychologists are Black and 7% are Hispanic/Latino. Many white providers are ill-equipped to engage with patients about race.

An increased accessibility to firearms may also be due to a rising percentage of racial and ethnic minority gun owners. During the 2020 firearm sales surge, the rate of AAPI gun owners increased by 43%. During the same time period, the rate of new Black and Latino gun owners increased by 58.2% and 49% respectively. Although this new cohort of racially diverse gun owners cited concerns over safety as their reason to obtain firearms, research shows that the presence of a firearm in the home increases the risk of firearm suicide by 300%.

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