What is the problem?
Gun violence is prevalent in many U.S. cities, particularly in historically underfunded neighborhoods. It spreads through social networks and intensifies long-standing inequities and public health disparities.
In 2015, half of all gun homicides in the U.S. took place in just 127 cities. Together, these cities contain less than a quarter of the country’s population. Nonfatal shootings are also prevalent in cities, and these injuries can have devastating consequences for the rest of a survivor’s life.
There are a wide variety of evidence-informed solutions to reducing gun violence and increasing safety in these communities. This includes violence intervention programs, Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding, and crime prevention through environmental design. City governments should partner with local advocates, residents, survivors, and researchers to ensure that applied strategies are appropriate for and responsive to local contexts.
Why is it an issue?
Gun homicides intensify long-standing inequities.
75% of homicides—which cluster in cities—involve guns, and the majority affect young Black and Latino men living in historically underfunded neighborhoods. Just 4% of blocks account for 50% of crime in many cities, and only 2-3 individuals from each street group actively engage in shootings. Comprehensive solutions to gun violence must recognize the role of social contagion and local context in cities, and supplement policies with community and data-driven violence intervention initiatives.
By the numbers
In 2015, half of all U.S. gun homicides took place in just 127 cities, which contain less than 25 percent of the country’s population.
Roughly a third of the US population lives in large cities, yet over half (54 percent) of people who have survived a firearm assault live in them.
In 2020, murders and gun homicides increased in the US at record rates. In cities overall, murders increased by 33 percent, and gun homicides increased by 37 percent compared to 2019.
What are the solutions?
Violence Intervention Programs
Violence intervention programs provide evidence and community-informed, comprehensive support to individuals who are at greatest risk of gunshot victimization. These programs are shown to reduce gunshot woundings and deaths in the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence.
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Assistance Funding
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) victim assistance funds are federal funds that can be used to support services for victims and survivors of gun violence. Many of the services eligible for VOCA victim assistance funds are already being provided by gun violence intervention programs, such as street outreach and hospital-based violence intervention programs. VOCA victim assistance grants should be used to help reduce gun violence and support gun violence survivors.
Prevent Gun Trafficking
The United States lacks strong federal gun trafficking laws to crack down on illegal gun trafficking networks. Congress should pass robust gun trafficking and straw purchasing laws to help keep guns off our streets.
Repeal Restrictions on Gun Trace Data
Since 2003, the Tiahrt Amendments have restricted law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute gun crimes. This data-blocking protects corrupt gun dealers and hinders law enforcement.