Impact of Gun Violence on Black Americans
What is the problem?
Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. They experience 10 times the gun homicides, 18 times the gun assault injuries, and nearly 3 times the fatal shootings by police of white Americans.
Gun homicides, assaults, and police shootings are disproportionately prevalent in historically underfunded neighborhoods and cities. This lack of funding intensifies our country’s long-standing racial inequities.
Local groups, residents, and city officials are driving solutions to reduce gun violence and increase safety in their communities, but data and resources are needed to support these efforts.
Why is it an issue?
Gun violence reflects and worsens racial inequities.
Each day on average, 30 Black Americans are killed by guns and more than 110 experience non-fatal injuries. At least every other day, a Black person is shot and killed by police. These trends worsen in large cities, where Black Americans make up 68% of homicide victims. Gun violence further clusters in specific social networks and neighborhood sub-sections. For decades, residents have come together to ensure public safety within their communities through street outreach, hospital-based violence intervention programs, and more. But lawmakers need to do their part. They must prioritize community- and evidence-based solutions to gun violence, assess their racial impacts, and develop systems to end and ensure accountability for police shootings.
By the numbers
Street outreach programs such as Cure Violence are associated with up to 37 percent reductions in gun injuries.
Black people in America are nearly 3 times as likely to be shot and killed by the police than white Americans.
What are the solutions?
Violence Intervention Programs
Violence intervention programs provide evidence and community-informed, comprehensive support to individuals who are at greatest risk of gunshot victimization. These programs are shown to reduce gunshot woundings and deaths in the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence.
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Assistance Funding
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) victim assistance funds are federal funds that can be used to support services for victims and survivors of gun violence. Many of the services eligible for VOCA victim assistance funds are already being provided by gun violence intervention programs, such as street outreach and hospital-based violence intervention programs. VOCA victim assistance grants should be used to help reduce gun violence and support gun violence survivors.
Repeal Shoot First Laws
Shoot First, also known as Stand Your Ground, laws allow people to shoot to kill in public even when they can safely walk away from the danger. These laws threaten public safety by encouraging armed vigilantism. They allow a person to kill another person in a public area even when there are clear and safe ways to retreat from a dangerous situation.
Prevent Gun Trafficking
The United States lacks strong federal gun trafficking laws to crack down on illegal gun trafficking networks. Congress should pass robust gun trafficking and straw purchasing laws to help keep guns off our streets.