Nearly every American will know victim of gun violence, says BU research

gun violence

In a new study from Boston University, researchers show that nearly all Americans are likely to know a victim of gun violence within their social networks during their lifetime.

This indicates that citizens are closer to gun violence than they perceive.

The finding is published in the journal Preventive Medicine. The research team used fatal and non-fatal gun injury data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

They used CDC data from 2013, which saw 33,636 gun deaths and 84,258 non-fatal gun injuries. Of the deaths, about 21,000 were suicides.

They estimated the number of social relationships a person accrues during his or her lifetime to gauge the likelihood of Americans knowing a gun violence victim.

Overall, the likelihood within any given personal network was 99.85%; it was higher for blacks (99.9%) and Hispanics (99.5%) than for non-Hispanic whites (97.1%).

The likelihood of knowing a gun violence victim who died (rather than being injured) was 84.3% overall, with blacks and non-Hispanic whites having the highest likelihood.

The authors mentioned that the study did not take into account the higher risk faced by people in “small identifiable social networks of individuals engaged in criminal activity” or by those previously exposed to violence.

Nonetheless, they said, “Using our assumptions, exposure to gun violence is certain for some individuals. For others, the likelihood would still be far from zero, even if the simplifying assumption of randomness is not accurate.”

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Citation: Kalesan B, et al. (2016). Gun violence in Americans’ social network during their lifetime. Preventive Medicine, 93: 53-56. DOI:
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.