We have described self-reported exposure to gun violence in an urban community of color to inform the movement toward a public health approach to gun violence prevention.
The Community Alliance for Research and Engagement at Yale School of Public Health conducted community health needs assessments to document chronic disease prevalence and risk, including exposure to gun violence. We conducted surveys with residents in six low-income neighborhoods in New Haven, Connecticut, using a neighborhood-stratified, population-based sample (n = 1189; weighted sample to represent the neighborhoods, n = 29 675).
Exposure to violence is pervasive in these neighborhoods: 73% heard gunshots; many had family members or close friends hurt (29%) or killed (18%) by violent acts. Although all respondents live in low-income neighborhoods, exposure to violence differs by race/ethnicity and social class. Residents of color experienced significantly more violence than did White residents, with a particularly disparate increase among young Black men aged 18 to 34 years. While not ignoring societal costs of horrific mass shootings, we must be clear that a public health approach to gun violence prevention means focusing on the dual epidemic of mass shootings and urban violence.