February 1, 2022 Blog


February marks the start of Black History Month and National Gun Violence Survivors Week. 

National Gun Violence Survivors Week—February 1-7—is a time to honor every life that has been touched by gun violence, from the more than 40,000 people killed and 100,000 people wounded each year to the countless others who have experienced the trauma of shootings or who have lost a loved one to this epidemic. You do not have to be shot to be a survivor of gun violence. 

The impacts of gun violence are far reaching and long lasting. And the epidemic is uniquely American. By early February, more people are killed by guns in the United States than are killed in our peer countries in an entire calendar year. 

While we know that gun violence impacts all of our communities, it does not impact us equally. As Black History Month begins, we want to highlight that Black communities bear the brunt of the crisis: 68 percent of Black Americans or someone they care for has experienced gun violence.

This disparate impact is felt in Washington too. Black Washingtonians are six times more likely than white Washingtonians to die by gun homicide. New data out this week showed that record-breaking gun violence in King County last year fell hardest on Black residents: HALF of all gun victims in 2021 were Black despite the fact that Black people make up just seven percent of the King County population.

This month serves as a reminder that the history of gun laws and the current gun violence crisis are inextricably linked with white supremacy and systemic racism. Working to end gun violence must include fighting to end anti-Black racism and dismantle white supremacy anywhere and everywhere we encounter it. This Black History Month we also want to lift up the Black leaders and advocates who have been fighting to prevent gun violence and end white supremacy for years. We’re lucky to work alongside them. Once again, we recommit to our pledge to honor victims and survivors of gun violence with action.

— Kristen Ellingboe is Communications Manager with the Alliance.