Researchers at Northwestern University decided to delve deep into some of the saddest days in recent American history: mass school shootings. They came away with interesting findings.

First off, it’s more likely for a school shooting to occur when economic times are tough and jobs are hard to find. They also found that the acts are not random, they target a specific person. Lastly they found that a minuscule 6.6% of school shootings are gang related.

“The link between education and work is central to our expectations about economic opportunity and upward mobility in America,” said John Hagan, sociologist and co-lead of the study. “Our study indicates that increases in gun violence in our schools can result from disappointment and despair during periods of increased unemployment, when getting an education does not necessarily lead to finding work.”

Of course, the subject matter was particularly grim.

“We spent days doing nothing but reading about violence at schools, which is quite possibly the saddest thing I’ve had to do for research,” said Adam Pah, data scientist and co-lead of the study.

But the authors of the study believe their work was integral.

“[Our work] helps us understand why the frequency of gun violence at schools changes, not necessarily why gun violence at schools in the United States exists at all,” said Luis Amaral, a professor of chemical of chemical and biological engineering and co-lead of the study.

They believe that economic opportunity is paramount to eradicating these harrowing acts.

“Our findings highlight the importance of economic opportunity for the next generation and suggest there are proactive answers we could take as a society to help decrease the frequency of gun violence,” said Pah.

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