Illegal guns are a source of concern among today’s teenagers and parents. Fatal incidents involving teens with guns are making headlines more than ever before, and the crimes usually end up with another teen getting shot. Unless you live in a rural area where young adults commonly use guns to hunt, it’s possible that a teen carrying a gun has emotional or mental issues and will not hesitate to shoot anyone who gets in his way.
Chicago’s UCAN organization conducted a 2009 survey among teens regarding their attitudes and beliefs about illegal guns. Jails were visited to interview teens who have engaged in criminal acts with guns. The statistics are frightening.
- About 34 percent of the teens surveyed said buying an illegal gun is not that difficult to do.
- More than 25 percent of today’s teens know someone who has been shot.
- More than one-third of today’s teens fear they will be shot someday.
- Approximately 12 percent of teens attend school where another student has been killed by gun violence during the past year.
Illegal gun possession and use are most prevalent among inner city gangs with younger members. In 2002, almost 75 percent of teen fatalities were due to gang violence, often involving the use of guns. Younger teens in a gang look to the older teen gang members (http://www.teenzeen.org/teens-and-gangs.html) for guidance, often with negative results. These teens’ brains are still developing, so while they are dealing with adult issues forced on them by the gangs, they are not always able to make the right decisions. More often than not, the gang action involves the use of illegal guns, and innocent bystanders are often fatally wounded.
Teens Think Positively
Despite the fact that 69 percent of today’s teens think that adults are not doing enough to prevent gun violence, they are hopeful that things will change. The United States government has put the Healthy People 2020 initiative into place to drastically reduce the number of teen deaths, including suicides and homicides, by the year 2020.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself against teen gun violence is to be prepared beforehand in case you find yourself in a bad situation.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Many teens talk about committing crime using guns, but other teens don’t always take them seriously. If you hear anyone talk about buying a gun or even joking about bringing one to school, tell an adult immediately.
- Have a plan in place. Know all the exits in your school in case a fellow student drops in with a gun someday. Talk with your teachers about what your class should do if this happens.
- Stay on the good side. If your friends start talking about guns and violence, don’t go along with them for the sake of looking cool. Tell them what you really think.
- Get involved with government. If you are worried about the number of teens in your area who have access to guns, send an email to your governor, senator or congressman asking them to do more to keep gun violence among your state’s youth under control.
Gun violence among teens is a big problem, but if enough people get involved and let their opinions be heard, the government might work to get controls into place sooner. Today’s teens use guns to commit robberies, burglaries, home invasions, homicides and suicides. These crimes leave a wake of devastation behind, with innocent people wounded or dead, and way too many teenagers spending years in prison for the crimes they committed.