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New study shows many arrests in Chicago are tied to illegal firearms

May 29, 2018  |  Posted by: Michael Falzarano
New study shows many arrests in Chicago are tied to illegal firearms

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A recent study reveals many arrests in the city of Chicago are in some way tied to possession of illegal firearms.

According to the Chicago Tribune, researchers at Northwestern University published the study in the Journal of Urban Health earlier this month which attempts to use network science to explain the city’s gun market.

Researchers used arrest records, shooting data, documented gang membership rosters, and gun seizures to classify about 188,000 arrestees and pinpoint who possessed illegal firearms.

The study says individuals who were taken into custody within these networks were usually two or three connections away from a weapon.

“That’s essentially a friend of a friend,” said Andrew Papachristos, the study’s co-author and a professor of sociology at Northwestern University. “The idea is to understand how guns move. We don’t have good data on guns, and (on) how people find and use guns in Chicago, beyond police reports and anecdotes.”

Gang members played a significant part in facilitating gun possession, according to the study.

“Those in gangs were typically one or two connections away from illegal firearms,” Papachristos said. “The reason people join gangs is for protection or access to a gun to protect themselves and their friends.”

The report concludes that heightened enforcement efforts, including outreach and intervention, could force gang leaders to be more prohibitive with their supply of weapons,

Researchers said although authorties have centered on crime-fighting and criminal justice efforts, surveilling social networks may provide a more useful tool for targeting public health intervention.

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