(Arstechnica) With our news reports speaking of gunfire epidemics, outbreaks, and plagues, firearm violence often sounds like a disease. But according to a new study, it often acts like one, too. In fact, catching a bullet may be a little like catching a cold—albeit a really bad one.
Gun violence can ripple through social networks and communities just like an infectious germ, Harvard and Yale researchers reported Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. This may not seem surprising, because earlier work has found that gun violence often clusters in certain areas and groups, particularly those steeped in gangs and drugs. But this study is the first to show that gun violence spreads directly from person to person after shootings—it’s not just about growing up in the same rough neighborhood or having the same risk factors.
The finding is good news, because, after decades of research, scientists are pretty good at predicting how infections cascade through populations. Applying disease-based theories and simulations to gun violence could help health workers get ahead of bullets and intervene before violence spreads.
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