Mass killings in major US cities disproportionately affect blacks, and structural racism may play a role, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Surgery.
Tulane University researchers analyzed demographic and income data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks gun violence in the U.S., as well as data related to 51 large metropolitan areas, including reports of fatal shootings from 2015 to 2019.
CNN and the Gun Violence Archive define it as a shooting that injures or kills four or more people, not including the shooter.
The study found that mass shootings were more likely to occur in areas with large black populations compared to communities with large white populations. Blacks are also more likely to be injured and killed in mass shootings, the findings show.
The study was conducted in It investigated 865 mass shootings between 2015 and 2019, resulting in a total of 3,968 injuries and 828 deaths.
Researchers have hypothesized that mass shootings are the result of structural racism, which is the “conventional and legitimate set of policies, practices, and attitudes that routinely result in cumulative and chronically negative outcomes for people of color.
They correlated the cities’ black-white segregation index, demographic data, poverty rates, education levels and crime rates.
During that time, Chicago was the scene of 141 mass shootings, resulting in 97 deaths and 583 injuries. According to the study, Milwaukee had the highest segregation index, which tracks racial disparities in schools and neighborhoods, while Baltimore had the highest unemployment rate.
Cleveland had the greatest income inequality.
Researchers said the study did not find a link between income and mass shooting incidents, but more research may be needed on how income inequality and poverty affect mass shootings.
“(The study’s) results have implications for targeted interventions to address gun violence at the community and national level,” said Dr. Kimberly B. Golish and Leah C. Tatebe with the Department of Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine commented on the study’s findings.
The study “provides evidence to support interventions to reduce the downstream effects of structural racism,” Golish said, and Tatebe said, “it’s time to focus on research and supporting patients beyond the hospital.”
Golish and Tatebe said that in addition to policy changes, what could be critical to reducing the impact of mass shootings and racial disparities is creating a framework for surgeons like them to deal with gun violence.
“Surgeons who can largely counter the effects of structural racism on gun violence are critical to combating these pervasive and deadly disparities,” they wrote. “We need to be able to draw on the strengths of our disciplinary teams and provide resources and support to those affected by gun violence.”
The authors of the study cautioned that the number of mass shootings and casualties reported by GVA is inaccurate and subject to change as reports from law enforcement, the media and other sources the group relies on are updated.
But they concluded that “racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be victims of[mass shootings],” adding that systemic inequity leads to a wide range of gun violence in the U.S. and is a public health concern.
Create an account for more CNN news and newsletters CNN.com