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What Role Does Density Play in Gun Violence?

In the wake of what is becoming an all too common occurrence in the U.S., Richard Florida examines whether gun violence, and especially mass killings of the kind that took place last week in Newtown, is an urban or suburban/rural plague.
December 17, 2012, 6am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"All too often gun violence in America is posed as an urban problem," says Florida. And although cities do, in fact, have the highest rates of murders by gun, research conducted by Florida with Atlantic Cities' fellow Sara Johnson reveals that, "the wide majority of mass killings and especially mass school killings have occurred not in the urban centers of large cities, but in the small towns, burgs and villages of our suburban and rural areas."

Digging deeper into the grim topic by looking at CDC data on gun murders, gun suicides and overall gun deaths, Florida found "no statistical relationship at all between gun-related murders and the size and density of metros, and a negative relationship between metro size and density and overall gun deaths. [He] also found the overall rate of gun death to be positively associated with the share of people who drive alone to work, which may reflect the social isolation that goes along with suburban sprawl."

He concludes that, "[w]hile some in the media tend to portray poor urban areas as breeding crime and violence, it's the quiet suburbs and rural areas which appear to be more likely breeding grounds for mass killers and mass killings." Perhaps such information will lead to more effective policies to help put an end to an appalling trend.

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Published on Saturday, December 15, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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