Center for American Progress

Gun Violence Has a Devastating Impact on Hispanic Communities
Fact Sheet

Gun Violence Has a Devastating Impact on Hispanic Communities

Hispanic and Latino communities are disproportionately at risk from rising rates of gun violence, but elected officials in these communities have so far failed to act.

Photo shows a group of people standing in a circle and holding hands around a makeshift memorial.
People link hands during a tribute to the victims of the May 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. (Getty/Chandan Khanna/AFP)

Americans across the United States are experiencing a significant rise in violent crime, and gun violence is the primary driver.1 Although all communities are affected, Hispanic and Latino populations are disproportionately at risk for gun violence victimization. Some of the deadliest mass shootings in recent history have occurred in Hispanic communities. In 2022, the close-knit community of Uvalde, Texas—where nearly 82 percent of residents are Hispanic2—experienced the shocking loss of 19 children and two teachers after an 18-year-old armed with an assault rifle opened fire at Robb Elementary School in the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook.3 Three years prior to the Uvalde shooting, El Paso, Texas, became the site of a deadly domestic terrorist attack when a white supremacist allegedly drove 11 hours to a Walmart and began shooting shoppers, ultimately killing 23 people and injuring 23 more. Further investigation revealed that the assailant targeted the El Paso community—where 4 in 5 residents are Hispanic4—in what he described as an attempt to stop a “Hispanic invasion” of the state.5

Although these high-profile shootings garnered significant public attention, the effect of gun violence on Hispanic communities is often left out of national conversations. Hispanic people, particularly Hispanic youth, are disproportionately affected by firearm violence in the United States. From 1999 to 2020, an estimated 74,522 Hispanic people in the United States died from gun violence, with violent homicides accounting for 60 percent of all gun deaths among Hispanic populations.6 The latest available data suggest that these disparities are only growing: From 2014 to 2020, the number of Hispanic people who died due to gun violence rose by 66 percent, increasing at nearly twice the rate of gun deaths nationally.7 In 2020, gun violence killed 5,003 Hispanic Americans, a record number that averages to 13 people per day.8

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The epidemic of gun violence against Hispanic Americans is more than just a data point. For each bullet fired, there are families and communities whose lives are permanently altered. As gun violence and mass shootings become more common and more deadly, a staggering 71 percent of Latino voters report fearing for their “personal safety from mass shootings in public places”9 and another 53 percent of Hispanic voters feel “very concerned” about gun violence in their communities.10 Recent polling data indicate that gun violence is a top concern for Hispanic voters and that Hispanic communities overwhelmingly support stronger gun laws. Currently, Hispanic voters list gun violence as their most important issue, with voters indicating they are willing to support officials who push for stronger gun safety regardless of party affiliation.11 Additional polling data on a larger sample size found that gun violence ranks among the top two priorities for Latino voters.12

Despite this evidence of these strong, shared sentiments among Hispanic communities, some policymakers continue to push for dangerous gun laws.13 This fact sheet details the gun violence epidemic in Hispanic communities and calls on policymakers to mitigate it.

Gun violence against Hispanic communities: By the numbers

66%

Increase in gun-related deaths among Hispanic people from 2014 to 2020

65%

Percentage of all gun deaths among Hispanic youth ages 24 and under that are violent homicides

74,522

Estimated number of Hispanic people who died by gun violence from 1999 to 2022

13

Number of Hispanic Americans killed every day, on average, by gun violence in 2020

Hispanic communities are disproportionately affected by rising rates of gun crimes

Gun violence kills an estimated 4,100 Hispanic Americans each year, averaging 11 deaths per day.14 However, there was a significant increase in Hispanic gun deaths in 2020: A staggering 5,003 Hispanic Americans were killed—an average of 13 deaths per day.15 Hispanic people living in the United States are more than twice as likely to die by gun homicide than their white counterparts. From 2019 to 2020, the gun homicide death rate among Hispanic Americans increased by a shocking 30 percent, averaging a rate of 4.6 deaths per every 100,000 people, compared with 2.2 deaths per 100,000 people for white Americans.16 From 2009 to 2018, the rate of nonfatal gun-related assaults against Hispanic Americans was 128.7 per every 100,000 people, compared with 90.5 per 100,000 people for white Americans.17

Moreover, 27 percent of Hispanic Americans report that they or a close friend or family member experienced gun violence in the past five years, compared with only 13 percent of white Americans.18 From 2020 to 2021, the number of violent crimes that Hispanic populations reported to police increased significantly—from 34 percent to 46 percent.19

Young Hispanic and Latino Americans are disproportionately at risk for gun violence victimization

Hispanic youth are particularly harmed by gun homicide. Hispanic youth ages 24 and younger are nearly three times more likely to die by gun homicide than their white counterparts: There are 4.4 Hispanic deaths per every 100,000 people, compared with 1.5 white deaths.20 In 2020, 38 percent of Hispanic gun homicide victims were ages 24 and younger; in comparison, white people ages 24 and younger comprised only 21 percent of gun homicide victims the same year.21

Indeed, despite representing only 4 percent of the population, Hispanic Americans ages 15 to 29 make up 8 percent of all gun homicides.22 Gun violence is the leading cause of death for young Hispanic males, killing more Hispanic males ages 15 to 19 in 2019 and 2020 than cancer and car crashes combined.23 Hispanic males ages 15 to 19 are four times more likely to die by gun homicide than white male youth of the same age.24 And research shows that gun homicides have been the second leading cause of death for Hispanic males ages 15 to 34 for more than two decades.25 An estimated 65 percent of all gun deaths among Hispanic youth ages 24 and under are violent homicides, while another 30 percent result from suicides by firearm.26

Even when gun violence does not result in death, it has significant impacts on Latino youth. Recent research published in the Journal of Urban Health finds that nearly half of all Latino youth residing in major U.S. cities live less than 1 mile away from a gun homicide that occurred in the past year.27

Weak state gun laws put Hispanic and Latino communities across the country at risk

Roughly 73 percent of all Hispanic and Latino people in the country live in only nine states—California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, and New Mexico.28 This leads to a concentration of Hispanic gun deaths in certain states, particularly states with weak gun laws. Consider the following facts:

  • Arizona has the highest rate of Hispanic gun homicides among all states and a gun homicide rate for Hispanic youth that is more than three times that of non-Hispanic white youth.29 A Hispanic person living in Arizona is more than four times more likely to die by firearm than a Hispanic person living in New York, more than three times more likely to die by firearm than a Hispanic person living in New Jersey, and nearly twice as likely to die by firearm than a Hispanic person living in California.30
  • In Texas, another state with a large Hispanic population, Hispanic people are nearly twice as likely to die by gun violence than white people. A Hispanic person living in Texas is more than three times as likely to die by firearm than a Hispanic person living in New York and more than twice as likely to die by firearm than a Hispanic person living in New Jersey.31 These numbers are even greater among youth: From 2019 to 2020, the rate of gun homicide for Hispanic youth in Texas increased by 37.5 percent.32
  • Hispanic youth living in Florida are also particularly vulnerable to gun violence. From 2019 to 2020, Florida gun homicide rates among Hispanic youth ages 24 and younger increased by 42.3 percent, making these youth twice as likely to die by gun homicide than white youth of the same age.33 Furthermore, evidence indicates dangerous gun laws disproportionately affect Black, Hispanic, and Latino communities in Florida. In 2010, five years after the state passed its Stand Your Ground law, the gun homicide rate among Hispanic men had increased by 27.9 percent.34
  • California exists as an outlier in states with strong gun laws, averaging a gun homicide rate of 4.1 deaths per every 100,000 Hispanic people from 2015 to 2020. It should be noted, however, that Arizona and Texas are among the top five source states for firearms recovered from California crime scenes.35

Hispanic communities want stronger gun laws

According to recent survey data, 65 percent of Hispanic adults support stronger gun laws, with Hispanic voters consistently ranking gun violence as one of their most important issues.36 In a fall 2022 poll by The Washington Post and Ipsos, 80 percent of registered Hispanic voters reported that gun violence would be a major factor in their vote in this year’s congressional elections.37 Additional 2022 Ipsos survey data found that 93 percent of Hispanic voters support universal background checks, and 82 percent support laws that allow law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from people who are “determined dangerous by the courts.”38

Conclusion

Hispanic and Latino communities disproportionately suffer the consequences of the United States’ gun violence epidemic and are uniquely vulnerable to rising crime. While Hispanic people are demanding action to pass gun violence prevention measures and voicing concern for the safety of their communities, elected officials are failing to listen; many have passed policies that place Hispanic communities at even greater risk of gun violence. The solutions exist, and Hispanic communities have been clear about how much they value public safety. It is time for policymakers to act.

Endnotes

  1. Eugenio Weigend, “The Recent Rise in Violent Crime Is Driven by Gun Violence,” Center for American Progress, June 3, 2022, available at https://www.americanprogress.org/article/the-recent-rise-in-violent-crime-is-driven-by-gun-violence/.
  2. Data USA, “Uvalde, TX,” available at https://datausa.io/profile/geo/uvalde-tx (last accessed October 2022).
  3. The New York Times, “Shooting at Elementary School Devastates Community in South Texas,” June 16, 2022, available at https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/05/24/us/shooting-robb-elementary-uvalde.
  4. Census QuickFacts, “El Paso, Texas,” available at https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/elpasocountytexas (last accessed October 2022).
  5. Ed Lavandera and Jason Hanna, “El Paso suspect told police he was targeting Mexicans, affidavit says,” CNN, August 9, 2019, available at https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/09/us/el-paso-shooting-friday.
  6. Center for American Progress analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Wonder: About Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2000,” available at https://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html (last accessed October 2022).
  7. Alex Nguyen, “Gun Violence in Hispanic & Latino Communities,” Giffords, September 9, 2022, available at https://giffords.org/memo/gun-violence-in-hispanic-and-latino-communities/.
  8. Center for American Progress analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Wonder: About Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2000.”
  9. Voto Latino, “Poll: Latinos Overwhelmingly Support Gun Reform Measures, Abortion Access,” June 22, 2022, available at https://votolatino.org/media/press-releases/poll-latinos-overwhelmingly-support-gun-reform-measures-abortion-access/.
  10. The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, “New Poll: Voters Support Expanding Community Violence Intervention as a Strategy to Address Gun Violence,” August 8, 2022, available at https://www.thehavi.org/voters-support-cvi-to-address-gun-violence.
  11. Chris Jackson and others, “Latino Americans worried about gun violence and crime, optimistic about America,” Ipsos, June 30, 2022, available at https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-polls/latino-americans-worried-about-gun-violence-and-crime-optimistic-about-america.
  12. UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota, “National Survey of Latino Voters,” August 10, 2022, available at https://www.unidosus.org/publications/unidosus-and-mi-familia-vota-national-survey-of-latino-voters/.
  13. Kate McGee and Jolie Mccullough, “Confronted with mass shootings, Texas Republicans have repeatedly loosened gun laws,” The Texas Tribune, May 24, 2022, available at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/24/texas-gun-laws-uvalde-mass-shootings/; Center for American Progress Action Fund, “Dangerous Gun Laws in Florida,” October 20, 2022, available at https://www.americanprogressaction.org/article/fact-sheet-dangerous-gun-laws-in-florida/; 2nd Amendment Firearm Freedom Act of 2021, Arizona H.B. 2111, 55th legislature, 1st sess. (2021), available at https://trackbill.com/bill/arizona-house-bill-2111-2nd-amendment-unenforceable-federal-laws/1975171/.
  14. Nguyen, “Gun Violence in Hispanic & Latino Communities.”
  15. Center for American Progress analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Wonder: About Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2000.”
  16. Ibid.
  17. Eugenio Weigend Vargas and Rukmani Bhatia, “No Shots Fired: Examining the Impact and Trauma Linked to the Threat of Gunfire Within the U.S.” (Washington: 2020), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/article/no-shots-fired/.
  18. Corey Williams and Michelle L. Price, “AP-NORC Poll: 2 in 10 report experience with gun violence,” AP News, September 1, 2022, available at https://apnews.com/article/gun-violence-covid-health-florida-d5e5426ab44942645a80cac8fd1fde8c.
  19. Alexandra Thompson and Susannah N. Tapp, “Criminal Victimization, 2021” (Washington: U.S. Department of Justice, 2022), available at https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv21.pdf.
  20. Center for American Progress analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Wonder: About Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2000.”
  21. Ibid.
  22. CAP Criminal Justice Reform team and CAP Gun Violence Prevention team, “Frequently Asked Questions About Community-Based Violence Intervention Programs” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2022), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/article/frequently-asked-questions-about-community-based-violence-intervention-programs/.
  23. Center for American Progress analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Wonder: About Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2000.”
  24. Ibid.
  25. Nguyen, “Gun Violence in Hispanic & Latino Communities.”
  26. Center for American Progress analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Wonder: About Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2000.”
  27. Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz and others, “Inequities in Community Exposure to Deadly Gun Violence by Race/Ethnicity, Poverty, and Neighborhood Disadvantage among Youth in Large US Cities,” Journal of Urban Health 99 (2022): 610–625, available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11524-022-00656-0.
  28. Jeffrey S. Passel, Mark Hugo Lopez, and D’Vera Cohn, “U.S. Hispanic population continued its geographic spread in the 2010s,” Pew Research Center, February 3, 2022, available at https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/02/03/u-s-hispanic-population-continued-its-geographic-spread-in-the-2010s/.
  29. Center for American Progress analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Wonder: About Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2000.”
  30. Ibid.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Ibid.
  35. The top five states are California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Oregon. See U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, “Firearms Trace Data: California – 2020,” available at https://www.atf.gov/resource-center/firearms-trace-data-california-2020 (last accessed October 2022).
  36. UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota, “National Survey of Latino Voters”; Nguyen, “Gun Violence in Hispanic & Latino Communities.”
  37. The Washington Post and Ipsos polling data from September 22, 2022, through October 3, 2022, available at https://docs-cdn-prod.news-engineering.aws.wapo.pub/publish_document/11a856f6-bc9a-4f11-86f7-ff1cdf3c0576/published/11a856f6-bc9a-4f11-86f7-ff1cdf3c0576.pdf (last accessed October 2022).
  38. Jackson and others, “Latino Americans worried about gun violence and crime, optimistic about America.”

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Author

Allison Jordan

Research Assistant

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