Northwestern Medical Study Links Gun Violence And Liquor Stores

| by Will Hagle
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Northwestern University’s Medical School has conducted a study linking gunshot crime to proximity to liquor stores in Chicago’s south and west sides. The study, which examined gunshot incidents from 1999 to 2009, found that individuals near liquor stores are “up to 500 times more likely to be shot than another individual in the same neighborhood,” the Huffington Post reports.

Marie Crandall, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, believes access to alcohol and proximity to liquor stores and bars increases the risk of gun violence. 

“You’re adding alcohol to an already volatile situation in a distressed community. If you light a match in the rainforest and throw it on the ground, the match will go out. If you light a match in a haystack in the middle of a drought, a powder keg will go off. These neighborhoods are powder kegs because they are challenged into high rates of unemployment, faltering economies, loss of jobs and institutionalized poverity and racism,” Crandall explained.

Chicago has played a major role in the country’s recent violence and gun control debate. The city has experienced a significant increase in gun crime and violence, with over 500 homicide were reported in 2012. There have been several instances in which the gun violence has resulted in the death or injury of young children, including the recent incident in which a 3-year old boy was one of 13 injured in a Chicago Park last week. Illinois used to be the only state without a conceal-carry law, but that legislation was changed earlier this year.

The Northwestern study focused specifically on Chicago’s south and west sides, the historically more poverty-stricken areas of the city that have been the source of much of the city’s homicides. 

Crandall “suggested studying the possibility of changing a business license from liquor store to food store in these Chicago neighborhoods,” believing that alcohol is a major source of the issues.