A recent report has found that African Americans were afflicted by firearm-related fatalities (FRFs) at twice the rates of Whites from 2000 to 2010. However, in the seven states that saw FRF rates decline over that same period, the fall was driven by reductions in FRFs among African Americans and Latinos.
The report, published in BMJ Open, an online-only general medical journal, found that the average FRF rate for African Americans was 18.5 for every 100,000 persons, versus 9.05 among Whites. Though African Americans have an FRF rate double that of Whites, this is nonetheless an improvement—in 1993, the FRF rate for African Americans was triple that of Whites.
Seven states (California, New York, Illinois, Arizona, Nevada, Maryland and North Carolina) and Washington, D.C., saw declining FRF trends during the 11-year period in question. Of this group, California had the largest decline and the study links this reduction to the strength of firearm laws, noting that California has eight state laws directed at preventing illegal gun trafficking, which helped drive a reduction of 25.4 percent in its homicide crime rate from 2001 to 2010.
However, strict firearms controls did not always lead to reductions in the FRF rate. Massachusetts saw an increase in its rate over the period in question despite having the third best rating in the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence firearm legislative strength score in 2011. The study speculates that the increase in Massachusetts’s FRF rate may have been driven by an influx of guns from nearby Maine and New Hampshire, two states with weak firearm regulations.
The reductions in FRF rates in Arizona, California, D.C., Nevada and North Carolina were driven specifically by lower FRF rates among African Americans in those states. Maryland saw a decline in its FRF rate due to a decrease among non-Hispanics, while the declines in New York and Illinois were driven by declines in the FRF rate among Latinos.