Hispanics killed by firearms at twice the rate of whites, study finds
U-M analysis of data from 38 states shows significant disparities in firearm injury, death rates among Hispanic populations
The rate of firearm homicide among Hispanic populations in the United States was more than two times higher than that of white Americans in 2021, the largest disparity in more than a decade, according to new research led by the University of Michigan.
The study, conducted by researchers at the U-M Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 36 out of 38 states analyzed had higher rates of firearm homicide among Hispanic populations.
Published in Injury Prevention, the research findings document an increase of 48% in firearm homicides among Hispanics between 2018 to 2021. By comparison, the researchers found a 22% increase in firearm homicides for white people during that same time.
“The results of this analysis can help prioritize policies, programs and more research to reduce health disparities and firearm injury outcomes among Hispanics,” said Eugenio Weigend Vargas, postdoctoral research fellow at the institute. “By identifying the highest priority areas in demographics and regions for addressing firearm injury and homicide, we can begin to more adequately assist those most affected by firearm violence.”
According to the data, firearm homicide rates were higher in metropolitan counties, particularly in large central areas, and were most pronounced among men and youth.
Differences in disparities between states could be partially due to the implementation of firearm-related policies that are more effective at reducing rates among white populations, the research shows.
The study also found that disparities differed across demographics within Hispanic populations, and further research may consider exploring disparities between Hispanics and other racial groups, such as Black Americans and Asian Americans.
These disparities may be mitigated, researchers suggest, by reducing differences in economic and social opportunities between these groups, noting that additional studies are needed to understand community- and individual-level, as well as structural factors that affect these disparities.
Complementary research could also explore differences in rates of firearm suicides or nonfatal shootings, and firearm injury relating to intimate partner violence. These future analyses could continue to shed light on critical drivers of racial health disparities.
Co-authors include Hsing-Fang Hsieh, Daniel Lee and Jason Goldstick.