Friday, 12 Aug 2022

Everyday Violence

We look at where most of America’s gun violence happens.

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By German Lopez and Ashley Wu

Since a gunman killed seven people at a Chicago suburb’s July 4 parade, more than 160 people have died from other gun homicides across the country. In Chicago alone, at least 10 people were killed in multiple shootings during the holiday weekend.

These everyday killings received far less attention than the mass murder at the parade. But they are the standard for American gun violence: More than 95 percent of gun homicides this year have been shootings with one to three victims.

Today, we want to help you understand where and why most everyday gun violence happens. We’re going to focus on Chicago, because it has one of the country’s highest murder rates and because a local group — the University of Chicago Crime Lab — keeps detailed data. But the trends in Chicago are also present in many other places.

One crucial point is that violence tends to be highly concentrated: A small sliver of blocks — just 4 percent in Chicago, for example — can account for a majority of shootings in a city or a county.

Many of the people in these blocks live in terror. The sound of gunshots is common, sometimes coming multiple times a day. Parents worry that their kids could be next, and young people fear for their own lives. As Jomarria Vaughn, a 24-year-old Chicagoan, told this newsletter: “I’m scared. I have my guard up all day.”

This map of shootings in Chicago shows the concentration. Shootings are rare in much of the city, particularly on the wealthier North Side, but not on the poorer West and South Sides.

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