Blacks in Minnesota are 12 times more likely to be killed by firearms than whites, but white Minnesotans are more likely than blacks to use guns to kill themselves, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Minnesota Public Radio News analyzed CDC data on gun homicides and suicides between 2008 and 2010. In a report Wednesday, April 24, MPR said that in those years, 73 black, non-Hispanic Minnesotans died from gun-related homicides, at an age-adjusted rate of 7.3 per 100,000. Meanwhile, 78 white Minnesotans were killed by guns, a rate of 0.6 per 100,000.
About 800 white residents killed themselves with guns, compared with 17 black Minnesotans, the data showed.
The data show most black gun-homicide victims are boys or men in urban areas; most white gun-suicide victims are men in rural counties.
“It’s a multi-factored, complex problem,” said Roxann Storms, a St. Cloud-based clinical social worker. She said many rural Minnesotans have easy access to firearms and limited access to mental health services.
They also have more of a mentality that they have to deal with life struggles on their own, she said.
Storms said research shows African-Americans in urban areas are often more closely connected to family or social networks, which reduce suicide.
African-Americans also are less likely to own firearms.
A February 2013 report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows gun ownership in white
households is higher than in black households, by more than two to one.Meanwhile, a separate Pew report found that more than 70 percent of African-Americans said controlling gun ownership is more important than protecting gun rights, compared to 43 percent of white respondents.
Gun violence in some black communities might influence views on gun control. At a recent open house at the south Minneapolis headquarters of MAD DADS, president VJ Smith said African-Americans in crime-stressed parts of Minneapolis have a different relationship with firearms than white people in small towns.
“Most of our families don’t have guns in our homes for recreational use. Those guns come in from the streets and they come in from the mob; they come in from drug deals; they come in from different things,” Smith said.
“Those guns get used for different things. Those guns get used to rob people. Those guns get used because we have so much rage and anger in our community, that the first we’re willing to do is to shoot somebody.”
Smith believes in stricter gun laws, but said more needs to be done to improve the lives of young men.