TSU Center for Justice Research to Participate in Study of Young Black Male Gun Possession

Person pointing a gun



Center for Justice Research


HOUSTON, TX – December 10, 2020 – The Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University will serve as one of several universities selected to join a $1 million Thurgood Marshall College Fund grant project exploring why young Black and urban youth carry guns funded by the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research. For their role in this two year, four-city project, the Center for Justice Research will receive $243,000.

The City of Houston will serve as one of the study’s four sites. As one of the few criminal justice research centers located on the campus of a Historically Black College or University, the Center for Justice Research provides an opportunity to bring forward unique insights and opportunities to discover culturally-responsive solutions for gun violence in the era of criminal justice reform.

“The country is looking for solutions and this is a great place to start,” says Howard Henderson, director of the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University. “Youth gun violence has been absent from the national criminal justice reform conversation despite ravaging many of our communities, Houston being no exception. Gun violence prevention begins with understanding the root cause analysis of the motivating factors and culturally-responsive evidence through mixed-methodological approaches will help us get there.”

This study comes at a key moment for Houston as the city’s murder rate is at a record high and the city needs all hands on deck.  At a time when historically disenfranchised communities are dealing with multiple life-altering threats including record levels of unemployment, a devastating pandemic, and unprecedented levels of inequality, the need to understand the root causes of gun violence are of utmost importance.

“Now more than ever, Texas Southern University is needed to help solve these complex issues plaguing our communities,” Henderson said. “The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Gun Violence Research Center are providing resources for a deadly issue that can only be eradicated through collaborative efforts.”

The study aims to understand why young Black males aged 15 to 24 possess guns, their view on guns, and what the males’ trigger points are. In addition to Houston and CJR, other field sites in the study include Baltimore and Coppin State University; Jackson, Mississippi and Jackson State University; and Wilmington by way of Delaware State University.

“This study is critical because it will help inform our understanding of the forces and factors that shape the involvement of young Black Men in Gun Violence, and the designing of the appropriate policy remedies,” said Dr. George Kieh, Jr., dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey LeLand School of Public Affairs.

So far this year, Houston police have attributed at least 345 homicides, coming close to the city’s 2006 numbers, when Houston police recorded 376 such murders. Cities across the nation are experiencing high rates of crime when compared to 2019 as the FBI reports a near 15 percent increase in the nation’s murders and non-negligent manslaughter offenses for the first six months of 2020.

“Texas Southern University is committed in our research and academic efforts to be a hub for solutions in urban areas,” said Dr. Kendall Harris, TSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research.  “Gun violence and its harmful effects have a direct impact on the communities we serve and the students we are looking to shape to become the next generation of leaders.  Our Center for Justice Research will join others in adding value to the national conversation.”



The Center for Justice Research is committed to creating justice reform-oriented solutions for the reduction of mass incarceration by connecting and applying academic thought to practical challenges. As a university-level research center, the Center for Justice Research provides a culturally responsive approach to mass incarceration and to criminal justice reform. Our targeted research advances data-driven solutions by supporting innovation, collecting committed reformers, compelling policy arguments and engendering broad consensus amongst community stakeholders.


The mission of the Barbara Jordan – Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs is to serve as an urban focused community of learning dedicated to educating professional who will plan and administer environmentally healthy and sustainable communities at the local, state, national and international levels of society.


Texas Southern University (TSU) honors our designation as a special-purpose institution for urban programming and research. TSU is a comprehensive university providing higher education access to the nation’s underserved communities. TSU’s academic and research programs address critical urban issues, and prepares its diverse student population to become a force for positive change in a global society. TSU offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and concentrations – bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees – organized into 10 colleges and schools on a 150-acre campus nestled in the heart of Houston’s historic Third Ward. The University’s enrollment has a population of more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate-school academic candidates. Texas Southern has been a distinguished educational pioneer since 1927, and the University has become one of the most diverse and respected institutions in Texas. TSU has positioned itself as a proactive leader in educating underserved students and many who are the first in their family to attend college.

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