Rutgers University found evidence that, in disadvantaged neighborhoods, shootings tend to occur closer to gun stores, The Trace reports. The study in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, comes amid a federal push to crack down on problem gun dealers. The researchers used data to explore the relationship between gun stores and violence in Atlanta between 2016 and 2018. In neighborhoods facing high rates of poverty and unemployment, shootings were more likely to take place near gun shops. In better-off neighborhoods, the opposite was true, with gun stores exerting an almost repellent effect on shootings.
Rutgers sociologist Daniel Semenza said the analysis suggests certain gun dealers increase access to firearms in ways that make disadvantaged neighborhoods more violent. “At the end of the day, almost every gun that is used in a shooting starts off at a federally licensed firearm retailer,” he said. “We hope our study redirects some focus to that point of origin rather than the necessary but significantly more difficult process of interrupting gun trafficking networks.” In June 2021, the Biden administration announced a gun violence prevention plan that included steps for supporting community violence interventions and dismantling gun trafficking networks. It emphasized holding “rogue” firearm dealers accountable by prioritizing them for inspections by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Semenza and his co-authors noted that their study suggests a way for ATF to maximize its resources: by focusing on dealers in distressed areas.