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January 10, 2017

"Want to fix gun violence in America? Go local."

The title of this post is the headline of this new Guardian special report that does an impressive job mapping and unpacking the locales of gun violence throughout the United States.   Here is how it gets started:

The map of America’s gun violence epidemic can seem overwhelming.  There were more than 13,000 gun homicides in the US in 2015, across nearly 3,500 cities and towns.  But the toll of this gun violence was not distributed equally.

Half of America's gun homicides in 2015 were clustered in just 127 cities and towns, according to a new geographic analysis by the Guardian, even though they contain less than a quarter of the nation’s population.

Even within those cities, violence is further concentrated in the tiny neighborhood areas that saw two or more gun homicide incidents in a single year.

Four and a half million Americans live in areas of these cities with the highest numbers of gun homicide, which are marked by intense poverty, low levels of education, and racial segregation.  Geographically, these neighborhood areas are small: a total of about 1,200 neighborhood census tracts, which, laid side by side, would fit into an area just 42 miles wide by 42 miles long.

The problem they face is devastating. Though these neighborhood areas contain just 1.5% of the country’s population, they saw 26% of America’s total gun homicides.

Gun control advocates say it is unacceptable that Americans overall are "25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries". People who live in these neighborhood areas face an average gun homicide rate about 400 times higher than the rate across those high-income countries.

Understanding this dramatic clustering of America’s of gun violence is crucial for the effort to save more lives. “We can’t do much about crime prevention of homicide if we try to attack it as a broad, global problem, throwing money at it in a sort of broad, global way,” said David Weisburd, a leading researcher on the geographic distribution of crime at George Mason University.

America’s gun policy debate is usually driven by high-profile mass shootings that seem to strike at random, and it focuses on sweeping federal gun control or mental health policies. But much of America’s gun homicide problem happens in a relatively small number of predictable places, often driven by predictable groups of high-risk people, and its burden is anything but random.

The concentration of gun homicides in certain census tracts mirrors what criminologists have discovered when they look at crime patterns within individual cities: roughly 1.5% of street segments in cities see about 25% of crime incidents, a trend dubbed “the law of crime concentration”.

January 10, 2017 at 09:52 AM | Permalink


How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime

A lesson in political will.

Posted by: peter | Jan 10, 2017 10:35:47 AM

Peter. You must address the low crime rates of Switzerland and of Israel. Everyone there is armed to the teeth. They also have low suicide rates, one quarter and half ours respectively. Israel has also drastically cut the suicide rate in its armed forces. Contrast that to the high suicide rate in our disarmed military. In Israel, active duty and reserve personnel are required to be armed at all times, by law.

All three nations have low and dropping lead levels.

What they have that we do not, is a low bastardy rate. I see the anti-gun campaign as a deflection from that problem, the anti-family jihad of our government.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 10, 2017 12:03:51 PM

The Supreme Court limited some attempts at 'local' regulations in high crime areas.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 10, 2017 12:17:34 PM

Actually, gun laws in Israel are fairly strict, http://www.pri.org/stories/2012-12-18/while-not-illegal-its-really-hard-own-gun-israel. You do see soldiers on the way to and from their bases carrying guns, but they are not loaded. Also, you are incorrect about reservists being armed at all times. Most of the country is in the reserves and they do not walk around armed when not on duty.

In Switzerland gun laws are also not as lax as they are in the US. http://factmyth.com/factoids/switzerland-requires-citizens-to-own-guns/ The per capita gun ownership rate is less than half that of the US.

The thing that both countries have in common is mandatory military services so those who do have guns know how to use them and don't end up shooting themselves in the face or being shot by their two year old, etc. Of course here requiring people to register guns and know how to use the is anathema.

Posted by: Andrew | Jan 11, 2017 6:58:34 PM

Andrew. Your sources are hate speech, left wing propaganda outlets, and liars. Dismissed.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 12, 2017 9:41:01 AM

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