Skip to main content


Log in

Won’t You be My Neighbor? Neighborhood Characteristics Associated with Mass Shootings in the USA

  • Published:
Race and Social Problems Aims and scope Submit manuscript


We measure the association between neighborhood characteristics and mass shootings building on existing research on neighborhoods and social and economic composition and crime. Using publicly available national data from the Gun Violence Archive (2014–2019), we geocoded and merged mass shooting incidents with US Census American Community Survey data. Our bivariate results suggest that census tracts with a mass shooting are more economically disadvantaged and have greater concentrations of black and Hispanic residents. In multivariate models, the association with concentrated disadvantage is no longer significant and the likelihood of a mass shooting increases until the proportion of black residents reaches 80%, at which point the likelihood decreases, controlling for other community characteristics. Further, as the proportion of black residents and the level of disadvantage increase together, the odds of a mass shooting incident in that tract are reduced. To address and prevent mass shootings, an expanded theory of neighborhood crime that incorporates the unique nature of mass shootings needs to consider structural racism, racial dynamics, and protective factors in relationship to economic conditions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others

Data Availability

All data are publicly available.

Code Availability

Coding of data are available upon request.


  1. There were only 260 tracts with two or more mass shootings during our multi-year study period, which is 0.38% of the tracts in the analytic sample.

  2. This “neighbors” variable is a polygon continuity measure that was created using the “edges and corners” function in ArcGIS Pro, which essentially includes information from any tract that is adjacent to and/or touching the focal tract. As a robustness check, we also created a measure for the average number of mass shootings per neighboring tract. The results for both sets of models were very similar.


Download references


The authors would like to thank Cyrus J. Schleifer for statistical consultation and Steven Hewett for assistance with geocoding.


No external funding was received for this research.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Erin J. Maher.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Authors have no conflicts of interest or competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Maher, E.J., Gerlinger, J., Wood, A.D. et al. Won’t You be My Neighbor? Neighborhood Characteristics Associated with Mass Shootings in the USA. Race Soc Probl 14, 223–237 (2022).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: