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.

Two men standing next to each other

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.

A man with his hands together in prayer

KEY TAKEAWAYS

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

PUBLICATIONS