Inner-City Gun Violence

Inner-City Gun Violence

Gun Violence: In the Inner City

Executive Summary


Over the last fifty years, crime in the United States has dramatically increased, with firearm homicides progressively becoming commonplace. Urban environments in particular have suffered from this phenomenon, as large quantities of guns have found their way into the hands of gang members and other perpetrators of violence. While this troubling scenario is multidimensional, with gun manufacturers, firearm dealers, interest groups, media sources, and individuals living in urban areas all playing a role, the public has predominantly focused on the notion that criminals are largely—if not wholly—responsible for this increase in urban gun crime.

While this conclusion is attractive because of its simplicity and palatability to the mass public, further

analysis of the issue shows that the roots of urban gun violence are much more complex. At the individual level, psychological, economic, and social factors have been found to pressure those living within urban centers to turn to gangs and criminal activity. Furthermore, the media’s skewed depiction of gun violence with regard to race and location, along with the gun manufacturers’ stake in perpetuating a fairly unregulated gun market, also share a substantial portion of the blame. This demonstrates not only that the analysis cannot end by simply attributing blame to individual dispositions, but also that a set of policy solutions premised on such a concept will fail to address the issue of urban gun violence adequately.

In order to resolve the current predicament, the full range of those culpable for the current levels of gun violence should be made to bear its costs. Gun manufacturers obvious candidates because they are the

starting point from which guns are dispersed; hence, they are in the best position to control the flow of guns to persons using them for unsavory purposes. Under the current structure, gun manufacturers are able to sell guns freely without having to internalize the costs imposed on society by illegitimate gun use. Traditionally, gun manufacturers have not only avoided efforts to track where their guns end up and to implement safety features, but have joined with groups such as the NRA to actively oppose such measures. Ultimately, increased negligence liability should be attached to gun manufacturers. Such liability would serve not only to give recourse to those who suffer from gun violence, but also to compel gun manufacturers to pay increased attention to how and where their guns are distributed and give them an incentive to produce those guns with more up-to-date safety features.

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