Last month, it was revealed that a border patrol agent allegedly shot and killed four Latina women in the span of two weeks in Laredo, Texas. The story soon faded from the national headlines—but these women have not faded from my mind.
Even in the wake of the second-deadliest mass shooting in American history, when a gunman opened fire in Pulse nightclub during Latino night and left dozens killed and hundreds wounded, we have yet to fully grasp just how much gun violence continues to devastate Hispanic communities across the country. As an activist and mother of two girls, I am frustrated with how issues affecting Latinx lives continue to be sidelined and ignored—specifically gun violence.
It is no secret that Black and Latinx communities are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. More than 3,200 Hispanic Americans die by gun violence every year. Between 2012-2016, homicide was the second leading cause of death for Hispanic Americans between the ages of 15 and 34, and 79 percent of those deaths involved a firearm. Hispanic children and teenagers are three times more likely to die from firearm homicide than their white peers. Two out of five Hispanic Americans say that they personally know someone who has been shot; nearly a quarter report themselves or someone in their family being threatened with a gun.
I’d be remiss not to mention how intimate partner violence also devastates our communities: Simply put, the United States is the most dangerous country in the developed world when it comes to gun violence against women. American women are 16 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries, and women of color, especially in the Latinx community, are hit the hardest.
More than one in three Hispanic women have experienced intimate partner violence in her lifetime, and the vast majority of Hispanic female homicides between 2003 to 2014—61 percent, to be exact—were committed by intimate partners, with nearly half involving firearms.
We can no longer go on like this.
October marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, and this year it comes in advance of the most important elections of our lifetimes. As one of the largest and most important voting blocs in America, Latinas must be prepared to send a strong message to lawmakers who continue to prioritize the racist and misogynistic agenda of the NRA’s extreme leadership over their lives and the lives of their friends and family members.
Our strength is in our numbers, our collective voice and our shared history of resilience. We must remember that in November. We owe it to the four women killed in Laredo, the clubgoers who died at Pulse and the thousands of other Latinx victims whose stories don’t appear on the front page of newspapers or cable news television to fight for the future of our communities at the ballot box.
We deserve to live and raise our children in communities where the probability of gun violence doesn’t exist as an ever-present threat to our hopes and dreams. That’s why I hope you will join me on November 6 and vote for lawmakers who aren’t afraid to tackle the issues at the intersection of gun violence and domestic violence.