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Half of Father’s Day weekend gun victims last year were connected to previous victims, expert says

Researchers available to discuss research on preventing firearms violence

EVANSTON, Ill. – Ahead of a celebratory Father’s Day weekend that typically sees a spike in shootings in Chicago, Northwestern University researchers weigh in on the national pandemic of gun violence and policies and practices for interrupting the cycle.

Andrew V. Papachristos is a professor of sociology, director of the Northwestern Neighborhood & Network Initiative (N3) and a Northwestern Institute for Policy Research faculty fellow. His research focuses on understanding the connected nature of cities and how their citizens and institutions are tied to one another. He uses network science to study gun violence, illegal gun markets, street gangs and urban networks. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Papachristos

“Year after year, weekend after weekend, gun violence happens in the same neighborhoods and within the same small social networks. Last Father’s Day weekend in Chicago, 104 people were shot over the long weekend — nearly half of whom were connected to victims of previous shootings.

“Our team at the Northwestern Neighborhood & Network Initiative has shown that methods similar to contact tracing can track the spread of gun violence and could perhaps amplify existing violence prevention efforts. Street outreach workers, for example, intentionally insert themselves into these networks in order to calm violent conflicts that lead to shootings and to try and reach those at most immediate risk of involvement in gun violence. N3 is currently involved in a city-wide evaluation of such efforts and early results are promising, showing (pre-COVID-19) a roughly 17% decrease in neighborhood violence where outreach operates.”

Dr. Linda A. Teplin is the director of the Health Disparities and Public Policy Program in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine. She is the primary investigator for the Northwestern Juvenile Project, the first large-scale longitudinal study of mental health needs and outcomes of delinquent youth after detention. She can be reached at

Quote from Professor Teplin: 

“Tragically, many children can’t celebrate Father’s Day because their dad is dead, a victim of firearm violence. Our longitudinal study, the Northwestern Juvenile Project, found that involvement with firearms during adolescence is linked to gun violence in adulthood. This underscores that we must learn to live safely with the more than 400 million guns in the U.S. One in three children live in a home where firearms are present. And nearly three-quarters of firearms are not stored safely. Parents who own guns must buy lock boxes, gun safes or trigger locks. We can then prevent these tragic events.”