With colleagues from the Penn Injury Science Center, Beard and Sims have been researching the epidemiology of gun violence in Philadelphia. In a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the Penn team analyzed statistics on firearm assaults in Philadelphia during 2013-14. Results showed that the gun murders and injuries were much more strongly associated with race than with neighborhood income levels. People living in relatively high-income black neighborhoods, for example, suffered a rate of firearm assault almost 16 times higher than that experienced by people living in white neighborhoods with the same income.
According to police data analyzed by the researchers, more than 80 percent of victims of firearm injuries reported in Philadelphia were black, and less than 6 percent were non-Hispanic whites.”
This racial/ethnic disparity is the ‘elephant in the room’ of firearm injury epidemiology,” Beard said. In the new essay, she and Sims argue for more research and scientific resources to explain this disparity, which they suggest may be rooted in structural inequality and other social factors that are amenable to policy interventions.