2.5 DEGREES OF GUN SEPARATION – Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States but also some of the highest rates of gun-related crime. Just because guns are difficult to get legally it doesn’t mean they are difficult to get:
In one of the first studies to try to map a gun market using network science, researchers used the novel scientific approach to understand how close offenders are to guns in the city of Chicago.
Recreating Chicago’s co-offending network of approximately 188,000 people, the researchers used data on firearms recovered by the Chicago Police Department to locate who in the network possessed those guns.
“Literally, we wanted to know how many ‘handshakes’ away possible users of illegal firearms are to a gun,” said Andrew V. Papachristos, senior author of the study and a professor of sociology at Northwestern University. “How easy is it for them to get a gun?”…
In the study, the researchers found that on average, any person in the network was 2.5 “handshakes” away from a gun.
“In the context of Chicago’s illegal gun markets, this means that guns are in relatively close — but not necessarily immediate — access to individuals in the network,” said Papachristos, also a fellow at the University’s Institute for Policy Research. “A distance of 2 equates with an ‘associates’ associate’ — the equivalent of asking someone for a gun and that person replying, ‘I know someone who can get you a gun.’”
Importantly, the study also found that gang membership reduces the distance to the closest firearm by about 27 percent, which came as somewhat of a surprise to the researchers.
Chicago anti-gun advocates blame the much more liberal gun laws in neighbouring states for negating the effect of Chicago’s own gun laws. But criminals will always get their hands on guns, no matter what obstacles, because guns are such crucial tools of their trade.