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News Science

Murder Is Like a Disease (No, Really) 299

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-the-only-cure-is-more-cowbell dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "With a homicide rate historically more than three times greater than the rest of the United States, Newark, N.J., isn't a great vacation spot. But it's a great place for a murder study (abstract). Led by April Zeoli, an assistant professor of criminal justice, a group of researchers at Michigan State University tracked homicides around Newark from 1982 to 2008, using analytic software typically used by medical researchers to track the spread of diseases. They found that "homicide clusters" in Newark, as researchers called them, spread and move throughout a city much the same way diseases do. Murders, in other words, did not surface randomly—they began in the city center and moved in 'diffusion-like processes' across the city."
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Murder Is Like a Disease (No, Really)

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  • by chrismcb (983081) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @08:26AM (#42190331) Homepage

    Is there no better use for research funding than to study the self-evident and report the obvious?

    It is obvious to you that murder acts like a disease? What is self-evident about it?

    There might be some use in this if it led to an accurate predictive formula for preemptive intervention, but I see nothing about that in TFA or the summary.

    Did you even read TFA?

    ..so that police might potentially identify problem areas as they are emerging—or perhaps, one imagines, before they emerge./quote/ Sounds to me like it might lead to an accurate predictive formula for preemptive intervention.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @09:00AM (#42190555)

    You make it sound as if smuggling weapons into the UK was somehow difficult.

    It is.

    A lot of the "gun crime" that happens here is with nonfunctional replica firearms, because the criminals can't get their hands on anything that actually shoots.

    When a "real" gun turns up, it's quite often a replica that has been rebuilt in somebody's garage. Guns confiscated by the police are quite commonly pathetic things with no rifling, barrel much shorter than it appears from the cosmetic replica exterior, and which have to be dismantled after a single shot to reload.

  • by Bobakitoo (1814374) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:10AM (#42191131)

    Doesn't the U.K. have a "knife crime" problem. Hence the seemingly ridicules laws about carrying edged weapons?

    I carry my Buck Knife (3" blade) everywhere with me. It's a tool. But I believe that could land me in jail in the U.K.?

    Please confirm or refute.

    If it lock, yes. All fix blade are banned, they consider a locked blade to be the equivalent of a fix blade. Slip join are fine, under 3 inch. eg: Laguiole, sak, spyderco uk.

    IANAL. If you travel, buy a knife locally and ask the shop owner about local custom eg: It may be legal but inappropriate. A locally brought knife also make a great travel souvenirs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:14AM (#42191171)

    Violent crimes, including violent crimes with guns, has been on the downward trend for decades in the United States. And during those decades gun laws have generally gotten *less* strict in that more and more states are legalizing concealed carry and some are even allowing open carry. Also, gun ownership is up. So, gun ownership and ease of purchase is either largely unrelated to gun violence or has a negative correlation. Generally, gun shot wounds, particularly from hand guns, are not fatal and the patient recovers. Of course that's not what makes the news. I don't have the statistics handy but something around 10% of hand gun shot victims die. Obviously we don't want anyone to die, but this isn't like a huge plague of death or something and things are getting better, not worse.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:55AM (#42191645) Homepage

    I've got a pet theory that most gun homicides are drug related

    You aren't the only one. In recent years Baltimore City [wikipedia.org] tried that approach. Here is one article I found on the subject:
    Baltimore’s Crime Drops As War On Drugs Becomes War On Violence [newsone.com].

  • by justanothernottabot (2788759) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:47PM (#42192877)
    The per capita homicide rate of the US was 4.4per in the last count, which sounds extremely high. For most Americans though, the "experienced" rate is much closer to Europe at 2.2per (same as Finland). You see, ~6% of the US population (African american males between 18-40) commit over half of all homicides (55% according to the 2010 FBI uniform crime report). If you scale down the rate at which black males commit homicide to be more in line with the percent of the population they represent, you're looking at European-level homicide rates. Now obviously there are a number of contributing factors to why this is occurring, most of them based on poverty, gang-related activity, and broken families/social structure for example. For the lion's share of the US population, our homicide rate is on par with Europe - it's only for tiny pockets of our population that the rate is extraordinarily high.

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