Rise in Hate Crimes

The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL. The Emanuel A.M.E. Church, often referred to as Mother Emanuel, in Charleston, SC. A Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, KY.

Unfortunately, we all know the tragedy that struck each of these cities far too well. Earlier this month, two significant data points were released that are being discussed on the news, in our social media feeds, in our workplaces, and beyond. These facts are not surprising to most although difficult to digest when considering the totality of increased violence occurring all around us. Most of us have felt a shift happening but perhaps we didn’t know the true intensity of it until now.

The first figure was released on November 8th, the 311th day of 2018 to be exact. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that provides public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States, there have been 307 mass shootings to date. In other words, we have averaged nearly one mass shooting per day this year alone.  

The second figure was released by the FBI. Their data shows that hate crimes have been on the rise for the past three years in the US. From 2016 to 2017 alone, hate crimes rose by 17%. James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death in Texas 20 years ago, became on the namesakes for a 2009 federal law expanding hate crime legislation. But just 100 hate crimes have been pursued by federal prosecutors between January 2010 and July 2018.

It is important that we clarify the meaning of both “mass shootings” and “hate crimes” to better understand how they’re defined by those who track them. Mass shooting, defined by the Federal government, is a shooting where at least four victims are killed. A hate crime is defined as, “a crime, usually violent, motivated by prejudice or intolerance toward an individual’s national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”

More than half of hate crimes—about three out of every five—targeted a person’s race or ethnicity, while about one out of five targeted their religion. This research compiled by the Brady Campaign shows us that for the first time since 2010, all 50 states reported at least one Anti-Semitic hate crime in 2017. They also reported that 22 transgender people have been killed with “a gun or by other violent means” to date in 2018. To see more connection between hate crime and gun violence, view their full report as they break down hate crime trends from 2010 to the present day.

You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions. We do know, though, that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium. Meanwhile, you may wonder how to go on living your daily life. What, after all, can we do about it?

  • Educate yourself: Everytown for Gun Safety is an organization that does many amazing things to promote gun safety. You can learn about gun laws in your state, facts about guns in public places, and much more.
  • Volunteer: Moms Demand Gun Sense In America has chapters across the country and holds events for the general public. They focus on the effects that gun violence has on children in America.
  • Donate: Brady Campaign focuses on changing culture, laws, and the gun industry. As one of the oldest gun control organizations in the country, the Brady Campaign was founded in 1974. Donating doesn’t have to always be monetary—they also have petitions you can support that advance their causes.

And perhaps most importantly, you can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days, weeks and months ahead.