Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Eric L. Piza

Committee Members

Kevin T. Wolff

Jeremy G. Carter

Joshua Freilich

Subject Categories

Criminology | Geography | Medicine and Health | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Urban Studies


gun violence, spatial, concentration, micro-places, co-location, neighborhood


This dissertation contributes fundamental work to the examination of gun violence through an investigation of prevalence, trends, and likely place-based dynamics that explain the spatial patterning of gun violence in Kansas City, MO over a 5-year period (2015-2019). Specifically, this dissertation assesses 1) the degree to which separate shooting typologies (fatal and non-fatal) concentrate in micro-places, 2) whether they co-locate at micro-places, and 3) the likely community characteristics and place-based dynamics that explain these observed patterns. Importantly, the role of place-based dynamics related to the post-incident operational response to gun violence is tested (e.g., a street segment’s proximity to trauma care and police response) as these processes are hypothesized as key to explaining micro-level variation in fatal shootings. Theoretical contributions of this study include expanding the role of micro-level explanations of gun violence and the inter-disciplinary study of gun violence. Furthermore, this study contributes to the practical application of policing by emphasizing the importance of determining the composition of gun violence hot spots for effective geographically oriented policing strategies and enhancing collaboration between criminal justice and public health systems. Results indicate that fatal shootings are more spatially dispersed than non-fatal shootings across micro-units. Fatal and non-fatal shootings are also unlikely to co-locate at shooting hot spots. Both fatal and non-fatal shootings are significantly associated with aspects of social disadvantage and risky facilities, with few differences. Finally, the relationship between proximity to trauma care and fatal and non-fatal shooting counts at street segments is consistent but in a different direction than previous literature. The role of police response is less consistent when predicting fatal and non-fatal shooting counts and is sensitive to how police response is measured.