Study released on gun violence, highlights need for data and research

Beyond the Carolinas

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A new study released by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law finds there is a critical lack of data about gun violence and LGBTQ individuals. While gun violence against the LGBTQ community is a significant concern, important questions remain unanswered or unexplored, such as the role of guns in suicide death, intimate partner violence and hate crimes.

“These gaps are partially due to a lack of data. Death and injury surveillance systems in the United States largely do not measure the sexual orientation or gender identity of victims or perpetrators,” the institute said.

The report examines gun violence against LGBT individuals, including suicides, homicides and other forms of gun violence. Researchers conclude that gun violence is a significant concern for this population, but there are many unanswered or unexplored questions, such as the role of guns in suicide death, intimate partner violence and hate crimes. These gaps are partially due to a lack of data: Death and injury surveillance systems in the U.S. largely do not measure the sexual orientation or gender identity of victims and perpetrators.

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“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,” said lead author Adam P. Romero, federal policy director, and Arnold D. Kassoy, scholar of law at the institute. “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.”

In a previous study, the Williams Institute found that an estimated 18.8 percent of LGB adults in the U.S. have guns in their home, compared to 35.1 percent of heterosexuals. Among both LGB and heterosexual adults, non-Hispanic whites are more likely to have a gun at home than other races/ethnicities. Overall, LGB adults are more likely than heterosexuals to support gun reform measures, such as background checks for all gun sales.

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The current report synthesizes literature on gun violence impacting both the general U.S .population and LGBTQ individuals, discusses evidence-based interventions to reduce gun violence and establishes a research agenda. Among key findings from the literature include: Between 10-20 percent of LGB people report having attempted suicide at least once in their lifetime; 6 percent of transgender youth had attempted suicide in the past year, compared to 9.1 percent of cisgender girls and 5.5 percent of cisgender boys; LGBTQ individuals experience Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) as often as or more often than the general U.S. population; 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.

“The Hope and Heal Fund is a proud funder of this timely and important report and we thank the Williams Institute for their tremendous work,” said Brian Malte, executive director of the fund. “With many unanswered questions due to large gaps in data available, it’s critical to take the next steps to uncover actionable data to inform effective strategies to stop gun violence in the LGBT community. This report provides the roadmap of the data needed to advance gun violence prevention efforts that will result in lives saved.”

The Williams Institute will host a webinar on May 23, 6 a.m. EDT, to discuss the findings of the report, the potential implications of this research for policies and interventions to reduce gun violence among individuals and the specific needs for future research and data. To register for the webinar, visit


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Posted by Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at and 704-531-9988, x205.