Black Americans are significantly less likely to own a gun than their white counterparts, but they are far more likely to have negative interactions with firearms, a new study reveals.
The demographic findings released by the Pew Research Center on Thursday as part of its complete study on American gun owners shows that 36% of white Americans report owning a gun while only 24% of African Americans say they own one.
Pew researchers — who surveyed 3,930 Americans, including 1,269 gun owners — also found that blacks were significantly more likely to know someone who had been shot or threatened with a gun.
Forty-four percent of American adults say they personally know someone who has been shot, either accidentally or intentionally, Pew researchers said via email on Thursday. That number jumps to 57% among black adults, according to Pew.
"We did find that blacks are far more likely than whites to say gun violence is a problem in their community," said researcher Kim Parker, director of social trends research for the Pew Research Center. "Our findings coincide with what Gallup organizations have found in similar studies and what we've also found in the past," she added.
New York anti-gun violence activist Iesha Sekou, founder of Street Corner Resources in Harlem, says the increased gun violence in black communities is driven by issues related to poverty, including unemployment, poor education, and less access to economic and health resources.
"Those things actually feed the violence in the community where we see people who are frustrated and underserved," Sekou said in an interview Thursday.
"Gun ownership is very different in white communities," she added. "They go out and buy a gun to protect their home or for hunting or recreational activity. Anytime you have people who are at a greater disadvantage, less resources, you're going to see people where gun violence is more prevalent."
The new Pew study comes less than a week after St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted on manslaughter charges for fatally shooting licensed gun owner Philando Castile on July 6, 2016.