New Jersey U.S. Senator Corey Booker (225896)
Credit: (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

In New Jersey, Black men aged 18 to 24 are 90 times more likely to be victims of a gun homicide than their white male peers, according to research. From 2015 to 2019, African-American children and teens were 14 times as likely to be shot to death as their white peers.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, along with Congressmember Steven Horsford and Lisa Blunt Rochester, reintroduced legislation to reduce urban gun violence in American cities and communities. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act would provide federal grants to communities for evidence-informed gun violence intervention and prevention programs designed to interrupt cycles of violence.

“Often when we talk about gun violence, the discussion focuses on deadly mass shootings, but in my community in Newark and urban cities across the country people are experiencing this on a daily basis,” said Booker. “The gun violence epidemic that is ravaging our urban communities has been overlooked for too long, even as many communities have gun injury rates similar to warzones.”

Research shows that a combination of community-oriented intervention programs and commonsense gun violence prevention policies can cut gun violence rates in urban cities in half in as little as two years. Homicide rates in the nation are nearly 20 times the national average and have a disproportionate impact on young people of color. Black men and boys, who make up just 6% of the U.S. population, account for 63% of all homicide victims.

Last week, the Department of Justice charged eight members of a Jersey City gang associated with the Marion Gardens Housing Complex with racketeering, violent crimes and firearms offenses. Members of the gang distributed drugs and participated in numerous assaults, shootings and murders, which targeted rival gang members and others.

Booker said, “It’s going to take bold, innovative, and smart ideas to tackle this challenge and keep our cities safe. This means investing federal resources in community-based violence intervention and prevention programs, which have been proven to reduce gun violence. It’s time we take action, confront this crisis, and implement solutions that work.”

Urban violence also comes with a hefty price tag. Gun violence costs the United States $280 billion every year—with each American bearing $700 of this cost annually.

A single gun homicide costs taxpayers $448,000 in medical and criminal justice expenses. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act would save both lives and taxpayer dollars. In New Jersey, gun violence costs taxpayers more than $1.8 billion each year, with at least $149.9 million in health care costs and criminal justice expenses. If New Jersey reduced the number of gun homicides in the state by just 10%, taxpayers would see a savings of $12.1 million.