Illegal guns 2 or 3 ‘handshakes’ away from Chicago arrestees, research shows

Illegal guns 2 or 3 'handshakes' away from Chicago arrestees, research shows

Illegal weapons confiscated by police are displayed at Chicago police headquarters on May 10, 2018. An expert from Northwestern University noted that confiscated firearms are only a fraction of the illegal gun market. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune) Many people arrested in Chicago for various offenses were within two to three degrees of separation from someone who possessed an illegal firearm, according to a recent study analyzing the social circles of offenders. In one of the first analyses to try to unravel Chicago’s gun market through network science, researchers diagrammed a web of about 188,000 arrestees by grouping individuals who had been arrested together, then examining data on gun recoveries to pinpoint who possessed illegal weapons. The authors found that people within these networks were two to three “handshakes” away from an illegal firearm. “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.” The study, published in the Journal of Urban Health earlier this month, found gangs played a vital role in facilitating access to guns. Instead of two to three handshakes, it would be take one to two such deals for gang members to obtain illegal firearms, according to Papachristos. “The reason people join gangs is for protection or access to a gun to protect themselves […]

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