When gun violence happens by white men — whether its a mass shooting, robbery or a domestic incident — experts are often quick to weigh in on what may have motivated them, while researchers try to understand them in the hopes that future violence can be prevented.
Gun violence in predominantly Black neighborhoods is rarely treated with the same level of empathy.
“Despite the attention to urban gun violence, we have little information from the young men participating in gun violence,” said Dr. Dorothy Dillard, director of Delaware State University’s Center for Neighborhood Revitalization and Research. “This study will provide a critical missing piece in understanding their lived experience.”
Dr. Dillard is the co-principal investigator in a research project that has been granted $166,290 over two years as part of the study, part of a $1 million grant awarded to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) by the National Collaborative for Gun Violence Research. Funding will cover Dr. Dillard’s role as the lead researcher on the qualitative component of the study, as well as support graduate students who will conduct interviews with at least 150 men between the ages of 15 to 24 in the Wilmington area. The targeted interviewees will be those who currently carry a gun or in the past have possessed one.
Dr. Harry L. Williams, TMCF’s president and CEO as well as a former DSU president, is the principal investigator. In addition to Wilmington, other research groups connected with the study will conduct similar interviews in Baltimore, Houston and Jackson, Mississippi.
The number of shooting victims and homicides in the city so far this year is up significantly from 2019. Protests against local and state responses to Wilmington gun violence began on Oct. 31 and have continued in November.