While gun-control activists often cite mass shooting incidents in advancing their calls for outlawing certain rifles, handguns are responsible for a staggering number of homicides in cities across the United States — particularly Democratic-led jurisdictions.
That was the conclusion of a recent Brown University study in which researchers determined that young men living in certain sections of Chicago, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, are more likely to be killed by gun violence than soldiers who fought in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Chicago's firearm violence led residents to call it "Chiraq." But do the risks of gun violence in US cities really compare to the risks of war? In a new @JAMANetworkOpen study, our team did the math. The answer: In some US cities, the risks are much worse.https://t.co/iXm6YyeSXL
— Brandon del Pozo, PhD, MPA, MA (@BrandondelPozo) December 22, 2022
In Philadelphia’s most violent ZIP code, the report found, young men were 1.9 times more likely to be fatally shot than U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. One Chicago ZIP code had even more dismal statistics with “young men between the ages of 18 and 29 … more than three times as likely [3.23 times] to be the victim of a gun-related homicide than soldiers serving in Afghanistan would suffer a ‘combat death.’”
The Philadelphia results were on par with the rate of combat deaths among Iraq War veterans and Chicago remained significantly higher.
Data from two other big cities included in the study — Los Angeles, California, and New York City — did not reveal neighborhoods where gun violence was on par with or greater than the rate of combat gun deaths. There was one factor that was consistent across all four cities: A staggering 96% of gun violence among young men impacted Black and Hispanic individuals.
Dr. Brandon del Pozo, who was a co-author of the report, indicated that his motivation for becoming involved in the study was to use hard facts to break through the partisan rhetoric that frequently defines debates about gun violence.
“We often hear opposing claims about gun violence that fall along partisan lines,” he said. “One is that big cities are war zones that require a severe crackdown on crime, and the other is that our fears about homicides are greatly exaggerated and don’t require drastic action.”
In reality, del Pozo concluded, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
“While most city residents are relatively safe from gun violence, the risks are more severe than war for some demographics,” he explained.
The report offers some insight into the crime disparities between communities across the nation, but some critics have pointed out that it excludes other common types of violent crime.
As Selwyn Duke wrote for The New American: “Don’t these war-zone areas also have greater ‘knife violence,’ ‘fist violence,’ and foot violence? As to the last two, note that more Americans are killed with ‘personal weapons’ (hands, fists, and feet) than with rifles of any kind, according to the FBI.”