Mr. Landrieu and Mayor Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia are founders of Cities United, a network of mayors trying to prevent the deaths of young black men. “This is not just a gun issue, this is an unemployment issue, it’s a poverty issue, it’s a family issue, it’s a culture of violence issue,” Mr. Landrieu said.
More than 20 years of research funded by the Justice Department has found that programs to target high-risk people or places, rather than targeting certain kinds of guns, can reduce gun violence.
David M. Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, argues that the issue of gun violence can seem enormous and intractable without first addressing poverty or drugs. A closer look at the social networks of neighborhoods most afflicted, he says, often shows that only a small number of men drive most of the violence. Identify them and change their behavior, and it’s possible to have an immediate impact.
The criminologist James Alan Fox at Northeastern University estimates that there have been an average of 100 victims killed each year in mass shootings over the past three decades. That’s less than 1 percent of gun homicide victims.
Annually, 5,000 to 6,000 black men are murdered with guns. Black men amount to only 6 percent of the population. Yet of the 30 Americans on average shot to death each day, half are black males.
Working with Professor Kennedy, and building on successes in other cities, New Orleans is now identifying the young men most at risk and intervening to help them get jobs. How well this strategy will work in the long term remains to be seen.