Fast Facts about Gun Violence, Hate Crimes, and the Policies that Will Save Lives

June 22, 2015

The terrorist shooting at the Emanuel AME Church, which is being investigated as a hate crime, reflects our country’s broader problem of gun violence and its disproportionate impact on communities of color.

African Americans have long been targeted with violence because of their race, and the majority of violent attacks by domestic extremists and on religious institutions involve firearms.

  • In 2013, 33 percent of all hate crimes in the U.S. targeted blacks, more than any other group.Federal Bureau of Investigation, Latest Hate Crime Statistics Report Released, available at
  • Guns are increasingly the weapon of choice for domestic terrorists and violent extremists: an analysis of domestic extremist attacks between 2009 and 2015 found that 64 percent were perpetrated with firearms.Southern Poverty Law Center, 2015, “Age of the wolf: A study of the rise of lone wolf and leaderless resistance terrorism,” available at
  • An analysis of violent attacks at faith-based organizations between 1999 and 2015 determined that guns were used in 57 percent of such incidents. At least 430 people were killed and 581 were injured in the incidents.Carl Chinn, Ministry Violence Statistics, available at

These hate crimes and terrorist shootings are committed in the context of a larger gun violence crisis in America.

  • Every day, 88 Americans are killed with guns.Everytown for Gun Safety, Learn What It Takes to Keep America Safe, available at
  • The gun homicide rate in the U.S. is 20 times higher then other developed nations.Everytown for Gun Safety, “U.S. Gun Violence Trend,” available at
  • There have been more Americans killed with firearms in the first 15 years of the 21st century than there were U.S. combat deaths in all the wars of the 20th century combined.Between 2000-2013 there were 435,159 firearm-related injury deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (available at, and based on existing trends, there were 33,000 additional firearm-related injury deaths in 2014, bringing the total to 468,000. Total combat deaths in the War in the Philippines, the U.S. Occupation of Nicaragua, the Mexican Revolution, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Multinational Force in Lebanon, the invasion of Panama, the First Gulf War, and the U.S. intervention in Somalia totaled 431,085.

Communities of color disproportionately bear the brunt of this gun violence.

  • Black men are nearly ten times as likely to be murdered with a gun as white men, and black women are three times as likely to be murdered with a gun as white women.CDC, Fatal Injury Reports 2009-13, available at
  • Black males age 15 to 34 are more likely to be killed with a gun than to die by any other cause.CDC, Fatal Injury Reports 2009-13, available at
  • Gun homicides reduce the life expectancy of the black male population by nearly a year.Calculated from CDC, “United States Life Tables, 2009,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Jan. 6 2014, available at

Research shows that strong gun laws can keep guns off our streets, reduce gun violence, and save lives.Hemenway, David, "Expert Survey 8: Strong Gun Laws & Homicide Expert Survey," Harvard School of Public Health, January 2015, available at

  • In states that require background checks for all handgun sales, there is 48 percent less gun trafficking.Everytown for Gun Safety, Gun Background Checks Reduce Crime and Save Lives, available at
  • After Missouri repealed its background checks requirement for all handgun sales, gun homicide and gun trafficking rates spiked. Controlling for other factors, researchers found the repeal was associated with a 25 percent increase in gun homicides, or 68 additional firearm homicides each year.Daniel Webster, Cassandra Kercher Crifasi, and Jon S. Vernick, “Erratum To: Effects of the Repeal of Missouri’s Handgun Purchaser Licensing Law on Homicides,” Journal of Urban Health 91, no. 3 (June 2014): doi:10.1007/s11524-014-9865-8.

Instead of taking common-sense steps to strengthen our laws, too many of our leaders push the gun lobby’s agenda and promote policies associated with an increase in violence, especially in communities of color.

  • Between 2005 and 2013, the NRA’s legislative allies passed “Stand Your Ground Laws” in 22 states, upending traditional self-defense law to allow people to use deadly force in public places. Those laws were associated with a 53 percent increase in justifiable homicides, particularly among African Americans.Mayors Against Illegal Guns, The National Urban League, and Vote Vets, “Shoot First: ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws and Their Effect on Violent Crime and The Criminal Justice System,” available at