Three essays on gun violence in the United States

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Social and Behavioral Sciences
gun violence
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Knorre, Aleksei

Gun violence, especially shootings, is a significant public health and safety concern in the United States. After a period of a relatively low level of shooting violence from 2000 to 2015, gun violence has been on the rise, especially since 2020. However, there are still many unknowns regarding these shootings. This dissertation investigates the spatial correlates of shootings, long-term demographic changes in the composition of victims, and the effectiveness of raising the minimum age to obtain handguns as a potential policy to reduce gun violence. By using several statistical methods and datasets, I find the following. First, in cities, shootings usually occur in residential areas with a high degree of concentrated disadvantage, and the increase in shootings since 2020 is concentrated in the same areas as before. Second, I find that the racial gap in shooting homicides has increased since 1985. This gap peaked in 2020, when Black men were ten times more likely to be shot than White men, with an estimated number of 10,717 excessive deaths among the Black population in 2020 associated with this racial gap alone. Finally, I find that raising the minimum age to purchase handguns is linked to an 11% decrease in youth firearm suicides, but this estimate is sensitive to the modeling approach used. Together, this dissertation contributes to the current knowledge on gun violence by examining the spatial and demographic concentration of shootings and the potential policy to decrease the toll of gun violence.

MacDonald, John
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