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Mass shootings tend to dominate the debate over gun violence – but they accounted for just 3% of all firearm homicides in the United States in 2021.

The vast majority of gun homicides are murders that happen in an extremely concentrated number of neighborhoods – places where the rate of gun deaths rivals war zones.

As a scholar of gun violence and victimization in the United States, I study and publish research on the geographic and demographic concentration of shootings, and I’m always searching for new perspectives to help people understand this crisis.

Concentrated disadvantage

Shootings happen over and over in the same locations. About half take place in just 1% to 5% of the land area in U.S. cities – in other words, in a tiny percentage of the nation’s homes, stores, parks and street corners.

These same neighborhoods tend to suffer from what criminologists call concentrated disadvantage – an unsavory mix of high crime rates, illegal drug markets, poverty, limited educational and economic opportunities, and residential instability. Cumulatively, these factors decrease the residents’ ability to maintain public order and safety in […]

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