In order to aid in the creation of gang homicide prevention strategies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed 2003-2008 data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) for five cities with high levels of gang homicide.
The resulting CDC report indicates that a higher proportion of gang homicides than other homicides involved young adults and adolescents, racial and ethnic minorities, and males. Additionally, the proportion of gang homicides resulting from drug trade/use or with other crimes in progress was consistently low in the five cities, ranging from zero to 25%.
Furthermore, the report found that gang homicides were more likely to occur with firearms and in public places, which suggests that gang homicides are quick, retaliatory reactions to ongoing gang-related conflict.
These findings provide evidence for the need to prevent gang involvement early in adolescence and to increase youths' capacity to resolve conflict nonviolently.
The report surveyed gang activity in Los Angeles, Calif.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Long Beach, Calif.; Oakland, Calif.; and Newark, N.J. In these cities, a total of 856 gang and 2,077 nongang homicides were identified and included in the analyses.
The findings include:
- Gang homicide victims were significantly younger than non-gang homicide victims in all five cities. Whereas 27%-42% of the gang homicide victims were aged 15-19 years, only 9%-14% of the non-gang homicide victims were in this age group.
- In at least three of the five cities, gang homicides were significantly more likely than non-gang homicides to occur on a street and involve a firearm. More than 90% of gang homicide incidents involved firearms in each city. For non-gang homicides, firearms were involved in 57%-86% of the incidents.
- With regard to the circumstances preceding the homicide, drive-by shootings were significantly more likely to contribute to gang homicides than other types of homicide in Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. Nearly one quarter of gang homicides in these cities were drive-by shootings, compared with 1%-6% of non-gang homicides.