Gun Violence Work

Our gun violence work is being used to support the Houston and Chicago gun violence efforts.

Overview

In 2020, the United States experienced the highest per capita gun death rate in 20 years and the greatest number of gun deaths of any year on record. Like other cities in the country, Houston has seen a sharp increase in gun violence and homicides in general. There were 281 reported homicides in Houston in 2019, 400 in 2020, and over 470 in 2021. Gun violence and violent crime are clearly on the rise, and in addition to being a public safety crisis, ongoing gun violence exposure has major implications for mental health and education, with the ability to perpetuate itself by influencing future gun carrying and future violence perpetration.

Purpose of Research

As one component of our efforts to address the gun violence epidemic in Houston and the rest of the country, the Center for Justice Research has partnered with Delaware State University, Coppin State University, and Jackson State University for an Understanding Gun Possession Among Young Males study. Funded by the National Coalition on Gun Violence Research and initiated and overseen by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, this four-city gun violence study examines gun possession among young males in high-crime cities with the goal of informing support services, violence prevention, and intervention efforts.

Impact

Social norms and antisocial behavior can be strong predictors of gun possession, and prior trauma is also correlated with gun possession among youth.

Common social context factors for these high-crime areas included high STD rates, single-parent households, food insecurity, lack of sleep, housing segregation, and difficulty affording housing costs.

These cities also shared social distress predictors, such as unemployment, income, and population density. These factors are more related to class, not race.

Ultimately, gun violence is a multi-faceted problem requiring a multi-pronged solution. Nationwide solutions to this problem must be culturally responsive and public health-oriented to address the many factors that contribute to gun violence in the first place, such as poverty and unemployment, unaddressed trauma and mental health challenges, and gun access. At the Center for Justice Research, we continue our work in the area of gun violence prevention and related policy to inch toward safer, more equitable communities.