Gun deaths twice among African Americans in US: Study

Gun deaths are twice among African Americans compared to white citizens in the US, says a study of the national figures in the past decade over variation in firearms deaths by ethnicity and state.

The researchers studied all recorded gun deaths across the USA between 2000 and 2010, including murders, suicides, and random unintentional shooting, from the Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, said the study published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The rate of gun deaths was twice as high among African-Americans as it was among people of white ethnicity but these deaths fell in 7 states and DC, compared with comparable falls in only 4 states among people of white ethnicity, the report said. Similarly, rates of gun deaths among Hispanics fell in 4 states, and rose among non-Hispanics in 9 states.

The District of Columbia topped the list at 21.71 per 100,000 deaths while Hawaii recorded the lowest rate of gun deaths at 3.02 per 100,000 citizens, and the rate in Florida and Massachusetts, rose owing to more gun deaths among people of white and non-Hispanic ethnicities, in the gun related murders, said the study.

However, unintentional firearm deaths fell significantly, but the number of gun related murders and suicides remained unchanged. In California, the fall was attributed to a reduction in suicides.

The authors point out that the patterns of gun deaths they found didn’t seem to reflect firearm control efforts and legislation in individual states. Some of the states with the most stringent gun laws showed an expected fall in firearm deaths, while some with strong gun control laws reported an increase.

For example, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranked Massachusetts the third most restrictive state for firearm legislation, while Florida was ranked 40th in 2011.

After Massachusetts passed its tough law restricting gun use in 1998, gun ownership rates plummeted, yet violent crimes and murders increased, possibly because of an influx of firearms from neighbouring states with weaker firearm laws, suggest the authors. And in Florida gun deaths rose, despite an overall fall in violent crime over the same period.

Clamping down on gun violence may require a broader approach, including curbing firearm availability and ramping up interstate border controls on the transport of firearms, the authors concluded.

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