Cities with higher numbers of Black residents and more segregated neighborhoods are more likely to have mass shootings due to the effects of structural racism, a study has found.

Ten researchers published the study Wednesday in JAMA Surgery. They examined 865 mass shootings that killed 828 people and wounded 3,968 across the nation’s 51 largest metro areas from 2015 to 2020, as recorded in population-based data and the Gun Violence Archive.

The study found that cities with higher percentages of Black residents, higher instances of Black-White neighborhood segregation, higher violent crime rates and more single-parent Black families were more likely to be affected by mass shootings, which the researchers defined as incidents that killed or wounded at least four people. The FBI also uses that definition to track the crimes.

The researchers concluded that “structural racism may have a role in their incidence.”

“These findings are consistent with rates of community gun violence, which disproportionately affect Black individuals,” they noted in the study.

The findings require further research to understand the concentration of shootings in Black communities and public health measures addressing “structural inequities,” two of the study’s authors said in an email to The Washington Times.

“We found that there is an association with some markers of structural racism, although this manuscript could not fully examine the root causes and our study shows an association, not causation,” senior author Dr. Sharven Taghavi and co-author Dr. Michael Ghio, both surgeons in the Tulane University School of Medicine. “We hypothesize that this is secondary to decades of structural inequities.”

Their study used the Black-White segregation index, an analysis of 2015-2019 living patterns published by William H. Frey and the left-leaning Brookings Institution, to compare data on shooting and racial demographics during those years.

While the study found mass shootings hit Black communities in red and blue states, the highest number from 2015 to 2019 occurred in deep-blue Illinois, which has some of the strictest gun control regulations in the nation.

Chicago — a metro area that is 16% Black but more than 75% segregated — had 141 mass shootings during those years, the study found. It noted that Illinois gun laws received an A- grade from the pro-gun control Giffords Law Center.

Baltimore was second, with 47 mass shootings, and Philadelphia was third, with 46. Both cities are in blue states. Giffords gives Maryland an A- grade and Pennsylvania a C+ for gun restrictions.

These findings help medical providers “fill the gap” in existing research “about the intersection of structural racism and mass shooting events,” according to an invited commentary published with the study.

“Solidifying how surgeons can combat the influence of structural racism on gun violence on a grander scale is critical to combat these prevalent and deadly disparities,” Drs. Kimberly B. Golisch and Leah C. Tatebe, both surgeons at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, wrote in the commentary.

They endorsed several gun violence reduction recommendations from the American College of Surgeons: public health campaigns, trauma center anti-violence programs and resources connecting at-risk neighborhoods to trauma specialists.

The study comes as Blacks, women and young people buying guns for the first time have driven record sales increases.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a leading gun industry group, the number of Blacks purchasing firearms leapt by 58% from 2019 to 2020 during the first year of COVID-19 lockdowns. Overall, the foundation counted more than 8.4 million first-time gun buyers in 2020 and more than 5.4 million first-time buyers in 2021.

The study reinforces the reality that more minorities purchased guns to protect themselves during pandemic spikes in violent crime, said foundation spokesman Mark Oliva.

“The resounding reason for these purchases were for personal safety and safety of loved ones,” Mr. Oliva told The Times. “People, regardless of race, are concerned about their personal safety and the safety of their loved ones.”

The FBI declined to comment on the study.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a record-high 48,830 people died from firearm-related injuries in 2021, the most recent year for which complete data is available. That included gun homicides, suicides, accidents, police shootings and undetermined causes.

Federal statistics do not distinguish between justified shootings in self-defense and unlawful shootings.

Some racial justice advocates not involved in the JAMA Surgery study said its findings call for increased resistance to White supremacist groups and other perpetrators of hate crimes against Blacks.

“If we do not challenge lies, if we do not challenge hate, then it is only a matter of time before we descend into horrors akin to the Rwandan genocide,” said Omékongo Dibinga, a professor of intercultural communication affiliated with the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.

The key to breaking down violence is to challenge racist stereotypes, he added in an email.

“While many may think these problems are rooted in the past, they continue today,” Mr. Dibinga said. “If these biases are not challenged now, then the cycle will continue for years to come.”

Lifting Black people out of poverty is also key to reducing gun violence within the community, said Duygu Balan, a San Francisco-based intergenerational trauma therapist and author who specializes in underprivileged communities.

“When an individual or the entire community continues to be in a traumatic situation such as living in violent neighborhoods, poverty, minimal or no access to physical or mental health care, we cannot even begin to talk about healing or trauma recovery,” Ms. Balan said in an email.

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