Temple University study links Philly gun violence to drug markets
Philly neighborhoods that saw gun violence surge during the pandemic also had something else in common: high drug market activity.
- That's according to a new Temple University study released last week that used publicly available data of 8,122 shootings in the city between Jan. 1, 2017 and June 30, 2021.
What they found: Researchers suggest that factors that traditionally put neighborhoods at a greater risk of gun violence, like higher levels of poverty and unemployment, didn't appear to be driving violence during the pandemic.
- "It was only the neighborhoods that had more drug activity that got increasingly worse in terms of shootings," Nicole Johnson, a Temple doctoral candidate who co-authored the study, told Axios.
The big picture: Gun violence spiked during the pandemic in Philadelphia and across the U.S.
- Homicides in Philadelphia reached an all-time high in 2021, according to police data.
Meanwhile, the city has been dealing with an opioid crisis for years, especially in the Kensington neighborhood.
- Philadelphia officials warned that unintentional overdose deaths may have reached a record level in 2021.
Top takeaways from the report include:
- The proportion of renters living in a community didn't have any bearing on neighborhood changes in gun violence during the pandemic.
- Communities with more police activity, like traffic stops, had higher rates of gun violence after the onset of COVID.
- Nearly half of the highly disadvantaged neighborhoods studied were estimated to have below-average increases in shooting rates after the pandemic began.
Yes, but: Researchers noted that the study has limitations, including that it didn't control for the 2020 protests following the police killing of George Floyd.
- "There could be a whole host of other explanations that could be driving the rapid increase [in gun violence] that we've seen," Johnson said.
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