Homicides are an issue. The only acceptable number of murders in this country should be zero, but that’s really not reasonable. Since gun deaths are what a lot of people focus on, including suicides, we can say that number should ideally be zero, as well. However, some people want to focus on the race of the victims, such as black gun deaths or Latino gun deaths.
The problem, of course, is that judging the numbers by race doesn’t really do much except inflame those who want to break everything down by race. It doesn’t give you the whole story and it never will.
The thing is, that’s just what some people do. Not only that, but when the numbers aren’t scary enough, they find a way to make them sound worse. That’s what happened with a recent study.
It was on Nov. 5, 2005, when José Guzmán had the worst day of his life.
Two armed teenagers robbed the Subway restaurant located near 43rd Avenue and McDowell Road in Phoenix, where Guzmán’s 17-year-old son Guillermo worked. What appeared to be a simple robbery turned into a double murder in a matter of seconds.
The assailants carried an AK-47 assault rifle and fired at Guillermo and his 16-year-old co-worker, Rafael, killing both of them.
“Sixteen years have passed since that tragedy and far from resolving the gun violence issue, it has only worsened,” Guzmán said to La Voz.
“Imagine, two 15-year-olds carrying an AK-47 on the street is a clear example of how easily guns can be found on the black market here in Arizona.”
According to a new study released Wednesday by the Violence Policy Center, a national organization that works to curb firearm deaths and injuries, nearly 70,000 Latinos were killed with firearms in the United States between 1999 and 2019, with an annual average of more than 3,300 deaths.
Almost two-thirds of those deaths have been homicides. Another 21,466 were suicides and 1,182 were caused by accidental shootings, according to the VPC.
Now, 70,000 deaths sound like an awful lot. However, let’s note that this is over a span of 20 years.
In other words, it breaks down to about 3,500 deaths per year. Still sounds like a lot, to be sure, but let’s put that in perspective. This is a population of 60.5 million people in the United States.
To the victims’ loved ones, that won’t matter, nor should it. Not to them. Only one murder matters to them and I get it. I get it better than most, I suppose.
However, for most folks, they’re looking at numbers and 3,500 sounds like an awful lot, but is it?
In 2019, there were 39,707 firearm-related deaths. The above report claims that 4,000 of those are Latino, which works out to just over 10 percent of those deaths were Latinos. Meanwhile, Latinos make up 18.5 percent of the population.
Sounds like Latinos aren’t disproportionately victims of “gun violence” to me.
Of course, that’s not really the point of “studies” like this. It’s not about saying that Latinos aren’t likely to be the victim of so-called gun violence. It’s about making the problems look horrifying. When it’s not already, the window examined gets expanded to such a degree that it looks like a huge issue. Over 20 years, even something weird like autoerotic asphyxiation looks like a major killer (between 250 and 1,000 people per year).
See, the goal here isn’t to learn or inform. It’s to infuriate.
With this “study,” people can try and leverage racial motivations to push for gun control. After all, 70,000 Latinos die every two freaking decades due to so-called gun violence. It’s an epidemic!
Only, it’s not. The problem is, the American public hasn’t really learned how to look at studies critically. They look at the conclusion presented and run with it as if it’s the gospel truth. They don’t know how to think for themselves about those findings. This is kind of what happens when you start to fetishize science and studies with no real understanding of how it works.
I’m not a scientist, but I have learned how to look at studies so I can evaluate the findings for myself. In this case, it’s more about inflaming people than informing them.