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Guns Killed Four Times More People of Color Than Whites in Colorado

Three 2020 victims of gun violence in Colorado.
Three 2020 victims of gun violence in Colorado.
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Guns don't discriminate. They're capable of killing anyone, no matter their age, gender or physical characteristics. But in Colorado, they're far more deadly to people of color.

During the first eight months of 2020, during which ninety people were killed by firearms in Colorado, around three-quarters of the victims were people of color, according to the National Gun Violence Memorial.

This percentage is far from what would be expected given Colorado's demographics. As of July 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau put the category described as "White alone, not Hispanic or Latino," at 67.7 percent of the population, with "Hispanic or Latino" representing 21.8 percent and "Black or African American, alone" coming in at 4.6 percent.

Not all of those on the Gun Violence Memorial roster for Colorado were murdered. The site also includes gun suicides, a focus of people in favor of so-called red-flag legislation that went into effect in the state at the beginning of 2020.

The law created a framework for temporarily taking guns away from those considered a danger to themselves and others, and in advocating for the measure last year, Nancy VanDeMark, interim president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado, pointed out that "the lethality of suicide attempts is far greater if someone is choosing a firearm versus asphyxiation or any other method. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of suicide attempts using a gun are completed, as compared to something like 2 percent with other means."

Eight more victims of gun violence in Colorado during 2020.
Eight more victims of gun violence in Colorado during 2020.

Of the ninety Gun Memorial listings for Colorado in 2020, seven do not include photos, although the victim's name in five of these instances suggests the deceased was a person of color: Deionte Lashay Dior Johnson-Smith, nineteen, who died in Greeley on August 21; Osiris Grey Rodriquez Herrada, age three, who died in Commerce City on July 16; Joe Trujillo, 51, who died in Denver on July 13; Surajadin Mohamed Ahmed, 22, who died on March 21 in Aurora; and Victor Gomez, 37, who died on February 15 in Pueblo. The other two items without photos pertain to Frederick Price, 23, who died in Grand Junction on August 8, and a person described only as "Male, age 42," who died at an undisclosed location in the state on May 17.

Of the white people killed by firearms in through August 2020 of this year, seven were women, and suicide figures into several tragic scenarios. Amanda Sullivan, 33, was found dead on April 22 in Hotchkiss along with her husband, Brandon Sullivan, also 33; both suffered fatal head wounds in what authorities described as a murder-suicide scenario. Daisy Coleman, 23, took her own life in Lakewood on August 4 after appearing in a Netflix documentary about teen sexual assault. And one-year-old Christopher Watson was shot to death on January 24 in Rocky Mountain National Park by his mother, Tristen Watson, who then turned the weapon on herself.

That leaves more than sixty people of color who were killed by a gun in 2020 to date. Some of the deaths, like the July 11 killing of seventeen-year-old Davarie Armstrong, received considerable media attention. But most of the events earned minimal press coverage, leaving family and friends bereft but the general public largely unaware of the losses.

Click for links to learn more about victims such as Elijah Joziah Duran, Khari Johnson, Eric Pineda, Miana Charity, Tonio Stallworth and Xaviyar Lawrence Sturges — or see the faces of even more Coloradans who were fatally shot in 2020 by visiting the Gun Memorial's Colorado page.

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