Can tearing down abandoned buildings reduce gun violence?

It’s possible that removing blighted structures from neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence could help reduce shootings, according to a new study.

Researchers led by Jonathan Jay, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, looked at neighborhoods in Detroit by U.S. Census block group and found that razing five abandoned buildings was linked with an 11% reduction in firearms assaults over the following 14 months.

The presence of abandoned buildings may make residents feel there’s a lack of social control in the neighborhood, which may then lead to violence, according to the authors. They theorized that, once the blighted buildings are gone, residents’ perception of the neighborhood may improve.

“This study highlights our ability to prevent gun violence by improving neighborhood conditions in straightforward ways,” Jay said in a July 31, 2019 article in Newsweek.

Senior author of the study was David Hemenway, professor of health policy.

Read the Newsweek article: Tearing down abandoned buildings may help lower gun violence, Detroit study shows