Racial Differences in the Relationship between Legal Firearm Availability and Gun Homicide: A Multilevel Analysis in Sixteen States

Research suggests that greater access to firearms increases the risk for gun violence. However, few studies have examined how legal firearm availability within the larger community outside of the home impacts rates of gun homicide. Furthermore, little is known about how legal firearm availability relates to gun homicide in communities of color compared to predominantly white communities. This study aims to address these research gaps by assessing racial differences in the relationship between legal firearm availability and gun homicide.

We examine how the concentration of federally licensed firearm dealers influences rates of gun homicide in all counties across the United States, controlling for a range of county- and state-level correlates of gun violence. We first provide descriptive results of differences in firearms dealer concentrations and gun homicides across communities, followed by separate multilevel analyses for majority white and black counties.

The results provide insight into the dynamics of legal firearm availability and gun violence in the United States while suggesting certain policy implications to help reduce gun violence across all communities.

Project Status:

Justice Quarterly

Principal Investigator (PI):
Daniel Semenza, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Rutgers—Camden