Incorporating Community Voices on Gun Violence

People raise over 750 wooden crosses which are dedicated to lives lost in 2016 in Chicago during a peace march on December 31, 2016.

Our research seeks to understand gun violence’s far-reaching impacts while ensuring that personal experience is a central component of our research. Including people who have firsthand experience with gun violence ensures that their perspectives, needs, and resiliency are highlighted and employed in the development of solutions.

We have engaged communities to develop effective responses to gun violence, helped tell the stories of those most affected, and interviewed business leaders, civic organizations, and community stakeholders to document the damaging impact of gun violence on their lives and communities.  

Photo by Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Who’s most affected? Young men—particularly young African Americans—disproportionately go to the hospital for gun-violence assaults, but the concentration of violence is even tighter than broad demographics suggest. In one African American community in Chicago, 41 percent of all homicides were concentrated in a social network consisting of less than 4 percent of the population. However, gun violence is an issue that extends beyond particular neighborhoods: domestic violence, firearm accidents, and injuries from stray bullets can affect Americans from every neighborhood and all walks of life.

Raising the Voices of Gun Violence

This brief represents the experiences, views, and attitudes of community members who are often underrepresented in research on perceptions of law enforcement – people living in high-crime neighborhoods with concentrated disadvantage. The survey found that while residents of these neighborhoods are distrustful of police, they nevertheless want to cooperate and partner with police to make their communities safer. A door-to-door survey in high-crime neighborhoods of six cities found that less than a third of residents believe police respect people’s rights, but the vast majority believe laws should be strictly followed and many would volunteer their time to help police solve crimes, find suspects, and discuss crime in their neighborhood.

How Do People in High-Crime, Low-Income Communities View the Police?

This brief presents a series of concrete actions the federal executive branch can take to reduce urban gun violence through a holistic approach. The most direct gun violence reduction work happens locally, but the federal government can complement these activities by supporting and promoting four key objectives:

  • Reduce easy access to firearms for people at high risk of engaging in violence.
  • Improve trust between police and communities of color. 
  • Increase investment in families and communities at greatest risk of violence.
  • Incorporate community engagement into prevention efforts

Federal Actions to Engage Communities in Reducing Gun Violence