The High Toll of Gun Violence in Majority-Black Neighborhoods

A new study led by researchers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania finds that majority Black neighborhoods have higher gun homicide rates than majority White neighborhoods. This comparison holds true, according to the researchers, even when the neighborhoods have the same socio-economic demographics.

Utilizing data from the Gun Violence Archive and American Community Survey, the researchers found that, among middle-class neighborhoods, the rate of gun homicides is more than four times higher in neighborhoods with mostly Black residents than neighborhoods with mostly White residents.

Dylan Small, the Class of 1965 Professor of Statistics at Wharton and the senior author of the study, explains that higher gun homicide rates exist across socioeconomic status due to America’s history of racially segregated housing. “The U.S. remains highly residentially segregated by race despite improvements since the 1960s,” Dr. Small says. “Besides residential segregation reducing Black individuals’ socioeconomic status by such mechanisms as inhibiting wealth accumulation through housing value and limiting access to high-quality schools, our findings suggest that even among neighborhoods of the same socioeconomic status, residential segregation may put Black individuals at higher risk of gun homicide.

“There tends to be less public and private investment in majority-Black neighborhoods.” Professor Smalls adds. “That can translate into fewer resources in the neighborhood, especially relative to need. For example, a lack of resources for programs for adolescents and young adults that might help them to stay away from gangs and street conflicts.”

The full study, “Neighborhood Racial Composition and Gun Homicides,” was published on JAMA Network Open. It may be downloaded by clicking here.

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  1. Michael says:

    Once again, we have another “White male academic” who has the Chutzpah to continue this statistical lie with this racist study. This flawed study is simply another implicit way of trying to assert that “Blacks are inherently violent narrative” which is far from the truth. What Dylan failed to examine is the origins of these handguns and why they’re so easily accessible in “the Black community”. Dylan fail to mention how explicit racism within the housing and financial industry has resulted in the intentional devaluation of Black homeowners property which had and still have a deleterious impact on Black communities. Further, Dylan definitely fail to explain the real reason why both public and private investment is very minuscule in the “Black community”. It’s called institutional racism. Last, it’s absolutely amazing that White academics somehow still believe they can examine, study, solve, and tell the story of the “Black community” better than Black academic themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  2. David Lee Bridges says:

    For whatever the reasons and multitude of excuses (institutional racism, accessibility of handguns, etc…) the author is right about Black communities being more violent even when controlled for income as compared to white communities. The best predictor of whether you will be a homicide victim in the U.S. is your proximity to Black people. Not Latinos, Not White people, not Asian Americans, but whether you live in a predominantly Black neighborhood or your proximity to them. Your more likely to be hit by stray bullet by a “can’t shoot straight to save their lives” Black man in a predominantly Black neighborhood than you are to be shot by a white police officer while just minding your business. Are Black homeowner’s property devalued because of racism or because your more likely to be a victim of gun violence in a Black community? Are Black homeowner’s property devalued because of the poor performance of the students in those school districts or because of racism? Are Black homeowner’s property devalued because Black neighborhoods are not as clean as predominantly white neighborhoods, or because of racism? The next excuse will be that White people are preventing Black people from picking up litter and sweeping in front of their homes. Ever wonder why every Black person that gets 2 nickels to rub together moves to the whitest neighborhood they can afford? It’s because they’re better! The Obamas don’t live in a predominantly Black neighborhood and P.G. County is the wealthiest predominantly Black county in the U.S. Oprah Winfrey doesn’t live in a Black neighborhood, nor Chris Rock, nor hardly any other successful Black person. In fact, I would argue that your level of success in America is indicated by your separation from Black people to a large extent, at least residentially speaking. There was a case in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. in which an innocent man was murdered because the NYPD was trying to get illegal guns off the street by posing as buyers. You see, a perfect example of the actions of Black people getting Black people killed. And this business about private money investing into Black communities. Why can’t Black people open businesses in their own communities. We probably had more Black owned businesses 60 years ago per capita than we do now. We definitely have more monied people now than we did 60 years ago. We comprise 75% of the NBA but don’t have but 1 or 2 owners at best.

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