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155 Sociodemographic characteristics and environmental features of mass-shooting locations in ten US cities
  1. Sharmaine Ross,
  2. Steven Forman,
  3. Christopher Morrison,
  4. Sara F Jacoby,
  5. Beidi Dong,
  6. Zoë Maher,
  7. Jessica H Beard
  1. Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University; Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University; School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania; George Mason University


Statement of Purpose Mass-shootings involving ≥ 4 people injured or killed occur frequently in cities in the United States. However, little is known about the places affected by mass-shootings. We aimed to describe the sociodemographic characteristics and environmental features of mass-shooting locations in US cities.

Methods Using Gun Violence Archive data, we identified all mass-shootings in the 10 US cities with the highest homicide rates from 2014–2017 (n=214). We geocoded the event locations and used American Community Survey estimates to describe the sociodemographic characteristics of mass-shooting block groups with 6 indicators of structural disadvantage. We compared mass-shooting block group sociodemographic characteristics with each city’s characteristics overall using Students t-tests. We assessed the environmental features of mass-shooting locations using Google Street View to code 60 elements of the visible environment.

Results Compared to overall city demographics, mass-shooting block groups had significantly higher rates of poverty (28.0% vs. 35.1%; p=0.004), unemployment (8.2% vs. 10.1%; p=0.005), Black residents (47.5% vs. 70.0%; p=0.012) and renter occupied units (53.0% vs. 57.9%; p=0.027), while percentage of college attendees/graduates (55.8% vs. 30.2%; p<0.0001), and median household income ($37,302 vs. $31,313; p=0.009) were significantly lower in mass-shooting block groups. Sixty-four percent of mass-shootings occurred in residential locations, and most locations demonstrated indicators of physical disorder. Average building conditions were graded as moderate; 37.4% of locations had buildings with broken/boarded windows and 78.3% had moderate to extreme littering. 94.3% and 93.1% of locations had no parks or playgrounds respectively.

Conclusions Mass-shootings in urban environments tend to occur in residential locations with significant structural disadvantage. The built environment of mass-shooting locations is characterized by blighted buildings and limited green spaces.

Contributions to Injury and Violence Prevention Science Discourse about mass shootings often excludes urban spaces. Structural disadvantage and modifiable environmental features are key targets for mass-shooting prevention in US cities.

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