Unlocking Gun-Violence Solutions: The Necessity and Power of Lived Experience

Dorothy Dillard 1 * , Howard Henderson 2, Maruice Mangum 3, Johnny Rice II 4, Amy Goldstein 5

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp. 182-202

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This article contributes to our national understanding of gun violence by incorporating in our analyses the perspectives of the young men most likely to be victims and/or perpetrators of gun violence in urban areas.  It also describes a more complex gun violence crisis by taking into account the environment in which many young Black men live and learn and how those settings contribute to their gun possession decisions. This focus on environment underscores the contextual differences between mass and school shootings compared to urban gun violence. The cities where our respondents live are marked by violence and few positive opportunities. By the time they were 15 years old, the majority of our study participants knew someone who had been shot, many knew someone who had been killed by a gun, and the majority had been arrested. On the contrary, few had significant adjucation or incarceration records and most were either in school or had graduated from high school. The findings represent the lived experience of 364 young Black males living in high crime cities. The interviews were conducted in collaboration with community partners in Baltimore, MD, Jackson, MS, Houston, TX, and Wilmington, DE.

Keywords: gun possession, lived experience, urban gun violence, black male perspective