After the Webinar: Understanding Homicide and Gun Violence. Q&A with David Kennedy

Webinar presenter David Kennedy answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Understanding Homicide and Gun Violence. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: Tyler asked the slide that indicated that for those close to the victims of homicides and shootings the risk increases by up to 900%. Is this specific to group members? Or does this apply to any form of homicide, like intimate partner violence that kind of thing?

David Kennedy: So, I don’t think we know the answer to that question for intimate partner violence partly because there’s, there’s a methodological issue, which is that there’s come to be a kind of standard understanding of network connections, when it comes to these gang, like group dynamics. So, I said, that the network, that I showed, had been constructed by looking at police data on validated gang members in this case, who’d been found in investigations to commit crimes together or who were field stopped together and that created a connection. Then, the researchers were able to use that to do the kind of analysis that I’m talking about. We don’t have that same understood methodology, at least as far as I know, for domestic violence and intimate partner violence, so I can’t give a formal answer. The informal answer is, and you know what it is, the answer is yes. Go back to the fact that places like the post and a lot of the folks who suddenly discovered gun violence because certainly they and their families are concerned about this and runoff so fundamentally misrepresenting everything. A lot of those mass shootings that they’re counting are, in fact, domestic and intimate partner violence offense. And you know what I’m going to say here, these are murder and suicide. The perpetrator kills the object of his affection, her kids, her parents, people at the picnic with her, and then, at least a lot of the time himself. So those, are what these other literature get called network connections. There are people that you’re in social relationships with. And so, what we absolutely know about this is that homicide and gun violence are not random. It’s not remotely, evenly distributed socially, and it really does happen in relationship clusters, whatever those relationships are. You know, the irony here is the old, the old bromide, you only hurt the ones you love, and the awful fact is there’s a lot of truth to that.


Audience Question: Margaret wanted to know, is there a city in the nation that is “getting it right”? Possible best practices, lessons learned, etc. that other cities can incorporate and replicate to reduce gun violence? 

David Kennedy: The happy answer is there are lots of those cities now, and this is what my office does. We support cities in this work, and many of them do really, really, really well. We’re not the only ones doing this now, others are doing it. But if you’re in this community of practice or if you’re in the world of violence prevention community folks, or the mayors and city managers who care about this, there’s a lot of tremendously good work going on. And, just, for example, I talked about Wilmington, Delaware. That was one of the cities I shared. I said that it used to be the most dangerous city in the country for children. That’s not true anymore. So, Bob Tracy, who comes out of NYPD, and then was a crime strategist in Chicago, and Chicago had this big dip following certain practices that I’ll talk about the next time, went to Wilmington, cut homicide and gun violence in Wilmington by 60% in the first year or two. They had a spike during the pandemic, as many places did, And then they brought it right back down again. And Bob Tracy is now chief of police in St. Louis, where we’re hoping to do it again. But there are a lot of these places. And again, if, if you’re interested, let me know. I’ll tell you more. I’ll give you those studies. I’ll make introductions or anything I can do to help.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Understanding Homicide and Gun Violence


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