Academic Publications

Voices from the Streets: Young Black Men on Surviving and Solving Gun Violence

Dorothy Dillard | Howard Henderson | Maruice Mangum | Johnny Rice I Amy D. Goldstein


This article examines gun possession and violence from the perspectives of 364 young Black men living in high-crime urban environments. It finds that exposure to community violence at a young age leads many to feel that gun possession is necessary for protection and survival. The study highlights the need to understand the lived experiences of those most impacted by gun violence in order to develop effective solutions.

Key Takeaways

  • Young Black men’s decision to possess guns is heavily influenced by violent environments, poverty, and lack of opportunity.
  • Participants were exposed to gun violence starting at very young ages, leading many to feel that guns are required for safety.
  • Contrary to some stereotypes, most respondents had prosocial attitudes, respected their families, and valued education.
  • Community-based interventions and resources are needed to provide alternatives to gun possession and violence.
  • The perspectives of those directly impacted must help shape policies to effectively address gun violence.