Black Males and Gun Violence

Charleston Heston

I couldn’t resist the Charleston Heston quote, “… you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” 

Below are statistics on Black Males and gun violence as reported by government agencies and experts. 

Young African-American males have the most elevated homicide victimization rate of any race or gender group. Homicides involving firearms have been the leading cause of death for African-American males ages 15 to 19 since 1969.5

The number of youth who report that they carry weapons is significant. In 1997, 14 percent, or 1 in 7 male juveniles, reported carrying a gun outside the home in the previous 30-day period.9 In the inner city, the problem is more severe. One study involving 800 inner-city high school students reported that 22 percent said they carried weapons.10 An even greater number of convicted juvenile offenders reported carrying guns — 88 percent, according to another study.11

Firearms are readily available on the illegal gun market, and those who are most likely to possess guns are drug sellers and gang members — overwhelmingly young and male.12 More than two-thirds of the respondents in one study of urban arrestees stated that the primary reason for owning and carrying a weapon is self-protection — a small number also reported using the weapon for drug trafficking or other illegal activities. Among arrestees overall, 23 percent of those who owned a gun said they had used one to commit a crime. Among juvenile drug sellers who owned a firearm, 42 percent reported using a gun in a crime; among gang members, 50 percent reported using a gun.

The drug market is a major contributor to the Nation’s homicide rate. Indeed, the peak in homicides during the mid-1980’s was directly related to the saturation of urban areas with the crack cocaine drug trade. Methamphetamine — more powerful, more addictive, and easier to produce than crack cocaine — is becoming a major drug of choice in urban, suburban, and rural communities. If the methamphetamine trade results in drug wars on the same scale as those of the 1980’s, it is possible that homicide rates will begin to climb once more, as drug dealers are among those most likely to carry weapons.21

Long-term solutions to address the problem of gun violence must include a comprehensive approach to reducing the number of youth involved in gangs.

 
 

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