Epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have studied the gun violence in Wilmington, De., reports the New York Times. The city of 70,000 had a 45 percent rise in shootings from 2011 to 2013, and the violence has remained stubbornly high; 25 shooting deaths have been reported this year, slightly more than last year. The study has caught the attention of researchers around the U.S., who say it is a fairly rare look at gun violence by an agency that has been limited for nearly two decades by congressional appropriations. “To me, it's a reminder of what CDC can do,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency room physician and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine.
Researchers analyzed data on 569 people charged with firearm crimes over more than five years, and looked for risk factors, such as whether they had been unemployed, had been helped by assistance programs, had been possible victims of child abuse, or had been shot or stabbed. The idea was to show that linking such data could help understand who might need help before becoming involved in violence. “The majority of individuals involved in urban firearm violence are young men with substantial violence involvement preceding the more serious offense of a firearm crime,” the agency reported. “Our findings suggest that integrating data systems could help these individuals better receive the early, comprehensive help that they need to prevent violence involvement.” Questions remain about whether the focus on risk factors before a shooting amounts to profiling those who have not committed a crime, and how to coordinate data and services that could help intervene.