NEW YORK — As Latino Heritage Month commences, new research from Everytown for Gun Safety (“Everytown”) and Voto Latino highlights the disproportionate impact of gun violence on Latino communities, as well as the increasing need for more research to fully understand the causes and impacts of gun violence on the Latino population in the United States.
Latinos in the U.S. have historically been impacted by discriminatory policies and attitudes and victimized by hate-motivated violence long before the mass shooting in El Paso. Research has found that an increase in Hispanic immigration in recent years has been associated with an increase in anti-Hispanic hate crimes. According to a 2019 report, 10 percent of Latino adults have been victimized by a hate crime in the past year. During Latino Heritage Month, it’s important to recognize the ways that this community is affected by gun violence and look at policies that can help prevent it.
READ THE FACT SHEET IN ENGLISH HERE AND IN SPANISH HERE.
“Latinos are being shot and killed every day in this country, and there is so much more we need to learn in order to successfully address this crisis,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, director of research at Everytown.” This fact sheet pulls together the resources we have in order to better recognize the impact gun violence has on this population and how state and local leaders can act to protect this community.”
“The Latino community is disproportionately affected by gun violence,” said María Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino. “The inaction of the federal government on gun safety and reform is directly leading to bloodshed in our communities on a daily basis. We must tackle this issue head-on if we aspire to give Latinos across the country the opportunities to thrive in this country, without fear of deadly violence.”
“My son, RJ Pantoja, was shot and killed while trying to prevent an altercation outside a nightclub in Philadelphia,” said Lisa Espinosa, an Everytown Survivor Fellow, and volunteer with the Arizona chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Each year, 3,600 Latinos die from gun violence in the United States. We need our leaders to offer sensible solutions that recognize the Latino community and build toward a future where this type of violence is preventable.”
Key findings from the fact sheet include:
- Between 2011 and 2015, Hispanic people experienced a higher rate of violent hate crime victimization than both white and Black people in America.
- Latinos are twice as likely to be killed in a gun homicide as white people and are also more likely to be fatally shot by police.
- Latino children and teens are three times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than their white peers and are also more likely to be exposed to violence in cities.
State and local leaders can act to protect Latino communities by implementing the following recommendations:
- Funding community-based violence intervention programs that identify individuals who are at the highest risk of shooting or being shot and work to reduce violence through targeted interventions.
- Implementing policies that reduce police gun violence. Law enforcement agencies should have strong guardrails on when police may use force against civilians, ensure police are held accountable when force is used and prioritize de-escalation, dignity, and respect.
- Prohibiting all people convicted of hate crimes from having guns. While a felony conviction prohibits gun possession under federal law, a hate crime misdemeanor conviction does not.
- Passing extreme risk laws, which allow family members and law enforcement to ask a judge for an order to temporarily remove guns from a person who poses a serious risk of injuring others (or themselves) with a gun.
While research makes it clear that Latinos in the U.S. are disproportionately affected by gun violence, the true scope of the impact is difficult to see. Aggressive federal immigration policies have a chilling effect on Latinos’ willingness to talk to the police. Practices like Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers appearing at hearings for protective orders have made immigrant domestic abuse survivors less likely to report the abuse. Fear of police inquiries into their immigration status or the status of someone they know has made US-born Latinos less likely to report being victimized by a crime. What’s more, certain cultural elements shared by many members of the Latino community, including histories of dictatorial leadership in Latin America and demographic status as ethnic minorities in the US, make many Latinos wary of law enforcement.
To speak with an expert or volunteers with Everytown’s grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action, please do not hesitate to reach out.