Data | Buffalo shooting latest in the rising hate crimes and firearm-related murders in U.S.

Vintage Firearms, the gun shop where Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect Payton Gendron legally purchased his weapon, is pictured in Endicott, New York on May 16, 2022.

Vintage Firearms, the gun shop where Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect Payton Gendron legally purchased his weapon, is pictured in Endicott, New York on May 16, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

On Saturday, an 18-year-old white man walked into a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighbourhood in Buffalo, New York, and gunned down 10 people. Officials told the Associated Press that the shooter targeted the area with the intention to kill as many Black people as he could. The shooter, identified as Payton Gendron, used a legally purchased Bushmaster XM-15, a semi-automatic rifle similar to an AR-15. Mass shootings have become more frequent in the United States with the number of such incidents rising significantly since 2017, declining slightly after 2020 due to the pandemic. This comes despite legal gun ownership remaining largely constant. Data shows that hate crimes have been increasing over the past few years, with Black people being the worst affected. Still, over 50% of white conservatives don’t think gun violence is a “big problem”.

Breaking Records

The chart shows that the frequency of mass shootings has risen dramatically since 2017, which saw the highest number of fatalities. The number of incidents declined after 2020 slightly, probably owing to the pandemic

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Caught in the fire

Firearm-related deaths include suicide, accidents and murders (including victims of mass-shootings). While these numbers have been rising since 2000, legal gun ownership has remained largely constant. The year 2020 recorded over 45,000 firearm-related deaths, the highest in the last two decades and about 5,000 more than such deaths in 2019. The increase has been attributed to a spike in suicide rates during the Covid-19 lockdown, by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Us vs. Them

Hate crime rates are at the highest level in over a decade. Black people make up the largest portion of victims, with the community witnessing nearly 1,000 more crimes in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement took centre stage, following a peak in racially charged acts of violence

Problem, for who?

According to the Pew Research Center, Black Democrats are most concerned about gun violence, with over 90% saying that it was a “very or moderately big problem” in 2021. However, only 47% of white Republicans shared this view. The figures given below are in %

According to the FBI definition, a hate crime is a traditional offence like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties

Source: Mother Jones mass shooting database, Firearm deaths: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gun ownership: Gallup, FBI, Pew Research Center

Also read: Open obsession: on U.S. mass shootings

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 10:27:52 pm |