‘It’s a Huge Public Health Problem’ – TUH Team Examines Philly Mass Shootings

Time. Location. Victim Count. These are the three variables a Temple medical research team used to analyze mass shootings in Philadelphia through the lens of an urban neighborhood. 

“Firearm homicide is sort of the leading way that homicide happens around the country. We have a big problem with gun violence in Philadelphia. It’s a huge public health problem and obviously as a trauma surgeon, something that I deal with everyday here at Temple [Hospital]” said research team leader and trauma surgeon, Dr. Jessica H. Beard.

There isn’t a standardized definition of a mass shooting so the team had to make one specific to this study. In this study, they can be classified as having four or more victims shot in a one-hour window within 100 meters (about a city block).

Researchers used police data of all firearm assaults in Philadelphia across nearly a decade from 2006 to 2015. 46 of those incidents were determined to be mass shootings. Dr. Beard and her team found that the mass shootings tend to be under reported in the media. 

“Most – the vast majority were reported in local, regional news media. So, we think the reach is sort of limited. If you think of this in comparison to more traditionally defined mass shootings, then maybe they aren’t affecting the same population as the folks in Philadelphia-those have national news coverage” Dr. Beard said.

According to researchers’ findings, seven mass shootings were not reported on by the media. There were no deaths and the victims tended to be black and younger than 25 years old at these mass shooting events. 

Of the 39 mass shootings that attracted media attention, only one was labeled “mass shooting” in the headline.

With proper reporting and greater public access to media on the topic, Dr. Beard says it will be the beginning to finding a solution to gun violence in urban neighborhoods. 

“We need to be hopeful. We need to teach the public, and journalists need to research what potential solutions are for gun violence” she said.

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