The city of Chicago is home to a large number of people. Over 2.7 million, to be exact. And with a murder rate higher than that of almost any other place in the United States, you’d expect that those murders would be spread out throughout the population. At least, that’s what the central limit theorem would indicate: that you’d see an even distribution of murders over the entire area. But a recent report has shown that to not be the case. In fact, according to the report 70% of all shootings happen within a population of only 107,740 people . . .
From Chicago Magazine:
Papachristos constructs a social network—not a virtual one in the Facebook sense, but a real one of social connections between people—by looking at arrestees who have been arrested together. That turns out to be a lot of people in raw numbers, almost 170,000 people with a “co-offending tie” to one another, with an average age of 25.7 years, 78.6 percent male and 69.5 percent black. It’s also a large percentage of all the individuals arrested: 40 percent of all the individuals arrested during that period.
Within the entire group, the largest component of that whole co-offender group has 107,740 people.
Within the timeframe—from 2006 to 2010—70 percent of all shootings in Chicago, or about 7,500 out of over 10,000, are contained within all the co-offending networks. And 89 percent of those shootings are within the largest component.
The interesting thing about this article is that it provides a new hypothesis for the “gun violence epidemic” that gun control activists are always harping about. Instead of the problem being one of “easy access to guns,” couldn’t the root cause of the problem simply be that a this small group is stuck in an infinite loop of violence and in need of help? Instead of going after guns as a whole, couldn’t we be more effective in targeting specific groups based on this research, short-circuiting the violence before it happens?
The problem is that a solution such as that is far too complex to fit on a poster. Gun disarmament activists can easily say, “it was the guns’ fault,” blaming the object, ignoring the more complex social factors surrounding the events. And then there’s always the convenient cries of racism — since the victims are “1.62 per 100,000 for whites; 28.72 for Hispanics, and 112.83 for blacks” according to the article, focusing on social factors would mean disproportionately targeting minority populations. It’s something that emotion-driven gun grabbers don’t even want to consider.
So 70% of shooting victims can be identified as part of a small social network. As we keep saying, it’s the people — not the guns. Firearms aren’t magical talismans that turn people evil and drive them to commit murders. Those people have other factors — either innate, external or both — that make them act violently. If we can just identify those factors and fix the problems in society, we can eliminate most of those shootings in the future.
But Shannon Watts and those like her prefer to blame the symptom for the disease.