“What is often referred to by researchers as ‘community gun violence’ — interpersonal violence between unrelated individuals that usually stems from a dispute — is a far bigger driver of our nation’s homicide rate than mass shootings are. And there exists little to no rigorous evidence to support claims that community gun violence can be significantly reduced through the enactment of popular gun control measures like assault weapons bans and more expansive background checks.
“What we do know, however, is that community gun violence is hyper-concentrated, both geographically and demographically. In cities across the country, such violence is driven largely by just a few hundred individuals, many of whom have come into contact with the criminal justice system for a wide range of offenses on multiple occasions. For example, the University of Chicago Crime Lab found that the average shooting or homicide suspect in that city had approximately 12 prior arrests.
“Research shows that analyzing criminal histories can help predict gun assaults. While imperfect, strong risk assessment tools can help law enforcement identify the chronic offenders within their jurisdictions that pose the greatest risks of gun violence perpetration. Once identified, those individuals can be targeted for prosecutions that lead to those offenders’ incapacitation, which research out of New York City found to be responsible for significant reductions in street-level gun violence in some of the city’s most vulnerable communities.”
Rafael A. Mangual is a senior fellow and head of research for the Policing and Public Safety Initiative at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Follow him on Twitter here.
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