A new study conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law examined gun violence against LGBTQ people, including gun fatalities as a result of suicide, homicide, and other forms of gun violence.
One of the overarching shortcomings in assessing data specifics according to the research team led by Adam P. Romero, the Director of Legal Scholarship and Federal Policy, and the Arnold D. Kassoy Scholar of Law, at the Williams Institute, is a lack of such in the role of guns in suicide death, intimate partner violence, and hate crimes.
A spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which supplies gun violence statistical data for the Justice Department’s ‘National Institute of Justice,’ (NJT), acknowledged to the Los Angeles Blade that nearly all reporting agencies in U.S. law enforcement at all levels- local, state, federal, do not gather specific measured data regarding LGBTQ victims. The NJT releases the compilation in an annual report known as the National Crime Victimization Survey.
“Government data systems must do a better job tracking the deaths and injuries of LGBT people so we can better understand firearm violence against this population, including differences by race/ethnicity, geography, and other characteristics,” Romero said in a statement.
“This is especially important because studies show that LGBT people have an elevated risk of violent death, which is related to anti-LGBT stigma and discrimination.”
A person who knows the direct effects of gun violence only too well is Brandon Wolf, a spokesperson for Equality Florida, and a survivor of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting which occurred on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
“Despite limited data, the theme is clear: LGBTQ young people are at intensely greater risk of suicide than their cisgendered, heterosexual peers. The presence of a gun amplifies that risk. The work not only to ensure common sense laws are in place, but to create a culture of inclusivity and safety in our schools is more important than ever.” Wolf told the LA Blade.
“Equality Florida remains steadfast in its commitment to preventing gun violence and ensuring schools are safe and healthy for all students, especially those who are most vulnerable.” he added.
A previous study, by the Williams Institute found that an estimated 18.8 percent of LGBTQ and heterosexual adults, non-Hispanic Whites are more likely to have a gun at home than other races/ethnicities. Overall, LGBTQ adults are more likely than heterosexuals to support gun reform measures, such as background checks for all gun sales.
“America’s epidemic of gun violence is a public health crisis that kills and wounds tens of thousands of people every year. This crisis has a disproportionate impact on our LGBTQ community, which faces pervasive, systemic discrimination, widespread prejudice, and hate-motivated violence all across the country. The climate has only grown more hostile — and the threats to LGBTQ people have only increased — since Donald Trump’s homophobic and transphobic administration took office in 2017,” John Becker, a longtime LGBTQ Equality Rights activist and founding member of ‘Gays Against Guns-DC’ told the Los Angeles Blade.
“Yet, astonishingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are largely prohibited from studying the public health crisis of gun violence, thanks to an NRA-backed provision that cut off funding for such research back in 1996. So the data that is available is shamefully sparse, and to top it off, most data sets do not track sexual orientation and gender identity. And as a result, LGBTQ people — already at heightened risk for gun violence — are left even more vulnerable.” Becker continued.
“Congress has a moral obligation to the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized, at-risk communities, to tackle this national emergency head-on, fully fund gun violence research, and take steps to stop the gun violence that’s killing us,” he said.
The current report synthesizes literature on gun violence impacting both the general US population and LGBTQ people, discusses evidence-based interventions to reduce gun violence, and establishes a research agenda. Key findings from the literature include:
More than half (51%) of all suicides in the US are by firearm and suicide attempts by firearm are usually lethal, resulting in death 85% of the time.
Between 10-20% of LGBTQ people report having attempted suicide at least once in their lifetime.
In a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47.7% of LGBTQ students had seriously considered suicide in the prior 12 months, compared to 13.3% of heterosexual students.
34.6% of transgender youth had attempted suicide in the past year, compared to 9.1% of cisgender girls and 5.5% of cisgender boys.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
LGBTQ people experience IPV as often as or more often than the general U.S. population. Bisexual women in particular report high levels of IPV at the hands of male partners.
According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 15% of bisexual women compared to 4.4% of heterosexual women reported that their partner used a knife or a gun.
Since 2010, there has been a 26% increase in firearm intimate partner homicide (IPH). Limited research indicates that gun use against gay and lesbian victims of IPH may not be as frequent as with heterosexual victims, possibly due to the lower prevalence of gun ownership by LGB people.
Over 10,300 hate crimes involve a firearm each year and nearly one-fifth of hate crimes are based on sexual orientation or gender identity bias.
LGBTQ people are victims of person-based (rather than property-based) violence at higher rates than victims of religiously or racially motivated crimes.
Sexual and gender minority students are more likely to be threatened with a weapon at school than heterosexual students.