The gun control debate seems to be on every Americans’ lips these days, and for good reason. While the U.S. accounts for just five percent of the international population, more than 30 percent of mass shootings occurring worldwide takes place in our backyards. In fact, there have been more mass shootings in 2015 than there have been days in the year so far.
While the recent horrific mass killings in San Bernardino, Calif. and Colorado Springs have brought the issue of gun violence and reform back to the forefront, it’s one that Latinos must be thinking about year-round. After all, our community is largely impacted by U.S. gun laws.
According to a Pew Research Center report, 62 percent of Latinos prefer gun restrictions like universal background checks and waiting periods over the rights of Americans to own guns, and after taking a look at some of the devastating stats on Latinos and gun violence, you’ll likely support – or at least care about – gun control laws, too.
1. Latina's should care about gun control 1
Latinos experience gun violence at disproportionate rates. According to a study released by The Violence Policy Center this year, the homicide victimization rate for Latinos is nearly twice that of whites, with most Hispanic murder victims killed by guns. In fact, homicide is the second-leading cause of death for Latinos between the ages of 15 and 24.
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Latinas have one of the highest rates of domestic violence. According to the National Violence Against Women Survey, 23.4 percent of Latinas are victimized by intimate partner violence in a lifetime, and studies have found that people with guns in their homes are at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide.
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We are more likely to be criminalized. While Latino and African American men are less likely than white men to own firearms and to be carrying weapons during stop-and-frisks, they are more likely to be charged, tried and convicted than non-Latino whites. Furthermore, studies show that charges for illegal gun possession tend to be worse for Latinos in California, with Hispanics more likely to receive felony charges and whites often charged with misdemeanors.
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Our Latin American familias are also impacted. The United States is the main source of illegal firearms in Mexico, with authorities in the country tracing 71.9 percent of guns to its northern neighbors. The situation is similar in other countries across Latin America, with figures as high as 40.3 percent in the Dominican Republic and 40 percent in Central America. The flow of these firearms from the U.S. to Latin America and the Caribbean worsens gun-related violence in these areas, and experts agree that reforms like universal background checks and a trafficking statute could help impede the illegal trade and, consequently, the violence.