Black people die 2x more often by gun violence, report finds

The gun violence crisis is harming Black Americans at historically high levels.

Loading the player...

Black people die by gunshot two times more often than white people despite occurrences of gun violence trending downward slightly, according to a recent study from a nonprofit that researches the health crisis. 

A new report by The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence shared its evaluation of data exclusively with theGrio. The center reviewed statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and data from an organization that tracks police shootings. Their report highlights racial disparities with gun violence. Among those findings: Gun homicides for Black Americans jumped 61% from 2018 to 2021. The firearm suicide rate for Black people increased 44% in the same time period.

In 2022, Philadelphia set a homicide record for the third consecutive year. One in every 67 Black men from ages 18 to 24 died or suffered injuries from a gun last year in the city, according to the Giffords analysis. “I’ve lived in [Philadelphia] my whole life, I’ve never seen the city like this,” Anthony Lemon, a city resident who lost three friends to gun violence last year says. 

Photos and shoes of gun violence victims following the steps at an anti-gun rally on the Art Museum steps, in Philadelphia, on June 11, 2018. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

One in 50 young Black men died or got injured from a firearm in Rochester, New York, last year, the report states. In Cincinnati, Ohio, it was one in 44. “Gun violence takes an extreme toll on Black communities. We see disparities in public health all the time, but with gun violence the homicide rate for Black Americans just outpaces the homicide rate for white Americans,” Kelly Drane, the research director at the Giffords Law Center says. 

Each year, close to 12,400 Black people die from gun violence, the report says. A record-shattering 15,548 Black people were killed by guns in 2021, according to Giffords. For Black men ages 15 to 44, homicide is the leading cause of death and guns account for 86% of the homicides in the Black community.

The disparity is more pronounced for children. In 2020, guns became the leading cause of death for all children. It had already been the leading cause of death for Black children since 2006, the Giffords memo states. In 2021, Black kids were 13 times more likely to be killed by a gun than white children. 

The suicide numbers stood out to Drane and other researchers. While a majority of gun suicides in the U.S. involve white people, from 2018 to 2021 gun suicide rates increased by 4% for white people but 44% for Black people, according to the Giffords report.

“The way that suicide is often presented doesn’t capture the fact that many Black Americans are dying by suicide each year,” Drane says. 

Police shooting numbers are less reliable because of holes in how the data is collected. With stats from Mapping Police Violence, a datatool that has been collecting information on police shootings and killings since 2013, Giffords found that one in four victims of fatal police shootings are Black. No other ethnic group experiences a higher rate of fatal police shootings than Black people. 

Lemon shares a sentiment that experts and community leaders stress about addressing this problem. “We got to get these neighborhoods right. The police, the schools, healthcare. All of it has to get better,” Lemon says. “We shouldn’t be okay with this.”

TheGrio is now on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!