UNDERSTANDING WHY YOUNG MEN POSSESS GUNS

LISTENING TO THOSE MOST IMPACTED

SUMMARY

This project provides insights into gun possession among young Black men in high-crime urban areas. The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 357 young Black men aged 15-24 in Baltimore, Jackson, Houston, and Wilmington using a grounded theory approach with open-ended questions. Community partners were engaged to build trust and rapport with participants. The analysis found early and extensive exposure to gun violence led many participants to carry guns for protection and safety. Poverty, lack of resources, and high crime rates were seen as key factors fueling violence. Participants felt current laws would not reduce urban gun violence and suggested a combination of stronger gun laws and more community programs to address root causes.

WHY IT MATTERS?

Despite increasing attention to gun violence, the perspectives of young Black men most impacted by urban gun violence remain understudied. This research helps fill that gap by capturing lived experiences in participants’ own words. Understanding their realities can inform policies and interventions to curb violence.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

We must address poverty, lack of opportunities, and trauma.
Without that, violence will persist regardless of stricter gun laws.

PUBLICATIONS

Unlocking Gun-Violence Solutions: The Necessity and Power of Lived Experience (Academic Publication) Socioeconomic Status and Crime in Four Cities: An Exploratory Study (Academic Publication) Ignored perspectives, hidden answers: insights on gun violence from young Black men | GUEST COMMENTARY (Op-Ed)