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The Disproportionate Share of Young Black Men Who Die By Gunfire

Firearms are far and away the leading cause of death.

During the first presidential debate Monday night, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton offered a chilling statistic on firearm homicides and the victimization of black males.

“The gun epidemic is the leading cause of death of young African American men, more than the next nine causes put together,” she said.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms her assertion: Of all black males between the ages of 15 and 24 that died in 2014, a majority — 54 percent — were killed with a gun.

Nearly nine in 10 gunshot deaths among young black men were homicides. When young white men die from a gunshot wound, the cause is usually suicide.

Some experts say that the high victimization rate of young black men is under-covered because most Americans think that gun violence doesn’t affect their lives. Michael Nutter, a former Philadelphia mayor and now an urban policy professor at Columbia University, told The New York Times last year that the public would care more if whites were dying from gun violence at the same rate as blacks.

“The general view is it’s one bad black guy who has shot another bad black guy,” Nutter said. “And so, one less person to worry about.”

The violence is pronounced in urban areas. In Chicago, for example, the risk of getting shot in the most dangerous neighborhood is nine times greater than in the safest neighborhood, and the shootings are clustered in districts that are populated predominantly by black people with low incomes.

Chicago is one of many large American cities where gun homicides spiked last year. The victims were disproportionately young, black, and male.

[Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor)