4. Victim or Aggressor?

Chicago Pipeline

In the article, Disentangling the Effects of Violent Victimization, Violent Behavior, and Gun Carrying for Minority Inner-City Youth Living in Extreme Poverty by Richard Spano and John Bolland, the authors drew a connection between victims of violence and gun carrying. Spano and Bolland researched how likely youth victims of gun violence and those with violent tendencies were to carry a gun. The authors also wanted research the overlap between victims of violence and those who engaged in gun violence to view any patterns. Spano and Bollard also conducted a research on the initiative of gun carrying to view if it is purely defensive, offensive or a combination of both.

Before reading this article, I thought most people carried guns only for offensive reasons. Richard Spano and John Bolland’s article on gun carrying in high poverty cities has shown me where gun violence begins and why these people choose to carry a gun.

Violent Victimization and Violent Behavior

Spano and Bollard explain that those that are triggered by violent victimization are “People who live in extreme poverty , [they] carry these guns for protection (195).” These young people who do choose to carry guns do so to prevent future violent victimization. This specific group of gun carrying individuals were deeply effected by their surroundings and felt compelled to get a gun for protection.

Photo by LowIncome.org
“Youth who are victims of violence (violent behavior and violent victimization) in inner cities are 132% more likely to initiate gun carrying. (Bolland and Spano, 201).

Spano and Bolland discuss the youth who have histories of violent behavior, they carry guns to frighten and intimidate others. These individuals that are the aggressors come to be this way in various ways including lack of role models, gang relations, etc. Throughout this article, the authors use terms to describe conditions that I’ve seen throughout my life that I had no actual words for. They’ve also showed me how these two groups are formed which is an explanation I’ve wanted.

Overlap: Victim and the Aggressor?

The authors conduct a research to find out what proportion of those who commit violent acts are victims of violence themselves. Their results revealed that 4.9% of them that were victims of violence, 11.6% of them were victims of both (violent behavior and violent victimization), and 31.2 % were victims of only violent behavior.

The sphere of violence presented on pg. 203 illustrates that only a small percentage, the victims of violence (4.9%), have the means for defensive carrying. It also illustrates that the majority, the 52.4% not effected by either forms of violence, have the ability to avoid participation in these violent acts. This section and diagram gave me a clear picture on how many of those participating in violent acts are victims themselves.

Motive: Guns for Protection or Aggression?

photo by: Meghan Walsh

The third study the authors conducted was on the decision to carry the gun either purely defensive or offensive. Their results showed no significant difference in the likelihood of defensive and offensive gun carrying in the youth. In the summary section, the authors point out that previous researchers have noted that, “[a] large number of youth carry guns for both defensive and offensive reasons.” With this in mind, I found the third study was unnecessary for them to conduct but very useful for my own knowledge. This section of the article made me grow to understand that sometimes intentions with a gun get blurred when you live in a dangerous place.

Spano, Richard, and John Bolland. “Disentangling the Effects of Violent Victimization, Violent Behavior, and Gun Carrying for Minority Inner-City Youth Living in Extreme Poverty.” Crime & Delinquency, 59.2 (2013): 191–213.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.