There were more than 13,000 gun homicides in the U.S. in 2015, across nearly 3,500 cities and towns. The toll of this gun violence was not distributed equally, The Guardian reports. Half of the gun homicides in 2015 were clustered in just 127 cities and towns, found a new geographic analysis by the Guardian, even though they contain less than a quarter of the nation’s population. Even within those cities, violence is further concentrated in the tiny neighborhood areas that saw two or more gun homicide incidents in a single year.
Four and a half million people live in areas of these cities with the highest numbers of gun homicide, which are marked by intense poverty, low levels of education, and racial segregation. Geographically, these neighborhood areas are small: a total of about 1,200 neighborhood census tracts, which, if laid side by side, would fit into an area just 42 miles wide by 42 miles long. Though these neighborhood areas contain just 1.5% of the country’s population, they saw 26 percent of gun homicides. Gun control advocates say it is unacceptable that Americans overall are 25 time more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries. The concentration of gun homicides in certain census tracts mirrors what criminologists have discovered when they look at crime patterns within individual cities: roughly 1.5 percent of street segments in cities see about 25 percent of crime incidents, a trend dubbed “the law of crime concentration.” The Guardian’s approach was made possible with the geocoded data collected since 2014 by the not-for-profit Gun Violence Archive, which tracks shootings and gun deaths using media reports.