Homicide risk is concentrated to a remarkable degree among black males through much of the lifespan. In 2016, the firearm homicide rate for black males aged 20-29 was at least five times higher than that for Hispanic males and at least 20 times that for white males in the same age group.
Firearm homicide historically has been concentrated among black males: at its peak in 1993, the firearm homicide rate for black males was more than double that for Hispanic males and more than 15 times that for white males. Firearm homicide rates declined for males from the early 1990s to 1999 but began to increase again in 2015.
In contrast to homicide, risk for firearm suicide is concentrated among white males, and the disparity increases with age. In 2016, rates for whites during adolescence and early adulthood rose more than those for blacks and Hispanics and generally continued to increase with age thereafter, most rapidly beginning at ages 70-74. In contrast, rates for black and Hispanic males decreased following young adulthood until middle age, before increasing again among the elderly. From age 45 onward, the firearm suicide rate for white males was at least 3 times that for black or Hispanic males.
In 2016, risk of death from firearm violence, including both suicide and homicide, was highest among black males through the age of 49. White males were at greatest risk thereafter, but at rates well below those for younger black males. The findings presented through this point have followed a traditional public health paradigm, emphasizing subsets of the population that are at highest risk for firearm violence. The population health model, however, stresses that the greatest number of cases—often called the burden—of an adverse health condition may arise from low-risk subsets of the population, if those subsets are sufficiently large. Mortality from firearm violence among males provides a good example of the advantages of employing both these complementary perspectives at once.