Understanding Gun Possession Among Young Males


About Us

Without an understanding of why young males choose to possess guns, how they view guns, and what their trigger points are – gathered from within their community – strategies to root out gun violence cannot target the true factors that lead to this violence. This multi-site study examines gun possession among 15-24 year old young men in four marginalized urban communities to gain a better understanding of gun possession from their perspective.

The sites and corresponding university leads are Houston, Texas (Texas Southern University), Wilmington, Delaware (Delaware State University); Baltimore, Maryland (Coppin State University); and Jackson, Mississippi (Jackson State University). This project was funded by the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research and overseen by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Benefits of Research

This data provides evidence for some economic and social stress indicators that appear to be consistent across four high violent crime cities. These particular factors may be particularly useful for highlighting for public policy efforts, particularly with experimental designs.


Results suggest that some common social contexts emerge: air pollution, insufficient food resources and sleep, residential segregation, housing cost burdens, comparatively few older adults and comparatively more females, were common among the four high violence cities. By contrast, all four cities unexpectedly had uncommonly low suicide rates compared to the national average. At the community level, unemployment, community stress, median household income, and population density all correlated with criminal outcomes. High-violence cities tended to have higher proportions of Black residents, however community level evaluations suggested that class-related issues, not race per se, was correlated with violent crime.


Conceptualize issues related to crime to social issues rather than racial issues.

Policies should alleviate the negative social environments correlated with crime, regardless of the ethnic composition of the neighborhood in question.

Project Manager


Doctoral Fellow

Denise Brown is a Center for Justice Research graduate research fellow. She is a doctoral student in the Administration of Justice Department of the Barbara Jordan -Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. She received her B.S. in Forensic Science and M.S. in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University. Denise’s research interests are at the intersection of forensic science and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

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