High Stakes for Carrying Firearms
This section focuses on those high stakes that come with carrying guns while being a juvenile and what are the consequences. The gun violence that is driven by juveniles consists of actions driven by emotion rather than the willingness to weigh the choices and ramifications of the actions they decided to take. One can note that behavior and mindset is “the offender’s perspective as to how and why they acquired guns and how the “guns” resides in their interactions and social places in their lives are understudied” (Rodriguez 2017). These risks are not recognized until it is too late by the juvenile in which they may think they are going to get a light sentence. Juveniles tend to more than likely think the legal system is not going to put pressure on a juvenile because of their age.
In fact, they are more than likely to be sentenced using very stiff sentencing guidelines for carrying a gun. It is important to have an idea as to what makes juveniles think they need to carry a firearm. It can be noted that “youths feel safer when gun-carrying, but in reality, gun-carrying increases their exposure to violence” (Loughran et al. 2016). This idea of having to carry a gun is often driven by fear or anger depending on the circumstances that are at play. Juveniles have not matured during their teenage years when they end up committing gun-related crimes.
When looking at juvenile gun offenders, it is important to take into consideration how demographics play a role in gun violence. In terms of demographics it’s the “Juveniles offenders of color, mainly African-American and Latino, are more susceptible to acquiring guns based on their environment and desire of monetary gain” (Rodriguez 2017). The ones who are often found with firearms in part due to the area they are juveniles’ offenders of color being Africa American and those of Hispanic descent. See often in the areas these juvenile offenders tend to live in are affected distortional by various issues such as high amounts of crime and economic disparity in place.
When looking at juveniles of color they often have to show the “willingness to use lethal force can be exacerbated by the problems associated with high levels of poverty, single-parent households, educational failures and a widespread sense of economic hopelessness” (Blumstein 2002). These social structural problems affect how well the juveniles can process and thrive in the world because without a sound functioning institution behind them then the streets become their institutions. As the world seems to be dysfunctional for juveniles of color, they often have to make risky choices due to the environment in which they live to survive.
Gun violence affects the Hispanic and African American Juvenile population at a higher rate it can be stated that “homicide attributable to gun violence is a leading cause of death for African American and Hispanic youths. Incongruously, youths often view gun carrying as a defensive strategy or a way to avert future violence” (Loughran et al., 2016). Constantly seeing violence occurs tends to force juveniles to choose to carry a gun in their neighborhood to either protect themselves or decide to cause disorder in the world.
The juvenile’s perspective is shaped around what they can from there window as they watch their neighborhood. It is important to take note that “Juvenile offenders explain their environment, living the street lifestyle based on the participation of drug dealing and the violent victimization that one can encounter” (Rodriguez 2017). As they watch and look, they often may have to look for a sense of hope and any perspective of living to see another day may depend on how their neighborhood is doing and with gun violence that entire idea becomes very grim and bleak because of the lack of access and hope.
Some sense of hope can come from a better environment. If having the chance to leave could help stem the tide of gun violence affecting juveniles, then the family should take a chance to do so. Hope comes in many forms which could allow a juvenile to be in a better place in terms of stability. It can be stated that “the major factor of having legal jobs would have been a great advantage for them not going into the illegal economy” (Rodriguez 2017). Having an opportunity to obtain a job as a juvenile does great wonders in terms of staying out of trouble and getting caught up in violence. In addition to not being caught up in neighborhood gun violence, this helps ensure that no lives are lost due to the fact a juvenile has gainful employment. This is a ray of hope for those who live in an area that is a war zone.
Those juveniles who are in areas of high crime and who are African American and Hispanic since they are affected at a higher rate of gun violence. To help highlight this issue that exists it can be noted that “gun available to young people who lack skills in handling potential can be terrifying” (Blumstein 2002). The high number of guns in the community being available in areas where juveniles of minority descent tend to have gun violence inflicted at a greater rate affecting these two demographics groups the hardest. As an example, for juveniles “the stressors that contributed to their gun acquisitions in their environment, poverty, violence, and interpersonal threats of fear against retaliation” (Rodriguez 2017). It’s important to understand that many factors play into gun violence in which affects juvenile’s perspective on life. In conclusion to this section looking at demographics and the areas in which these juveniles grew up play a large role as to how they may turn out to be. To make juveniles lives needs to be a better understanding of the underlying issues which lead to incarceration.
Preventive Measures to Deter Youth Firearm Offenders
Juvenile gun violence is a social problem driven by many factors. The problem of attempting to combat gun violence is that “Juveniles offenders in urban areas report that guns can be easily acquired from a variety of sources” (Kellerman et. al., 1998). Now the challenge is how to attempt to stop these various sources to reduce the opportunity for firearms to get into the hands of the youth. In an attempt to prevent youth gun violence, there has to be various strategies from government agencies and the community at large. To address youth gun violence, a “greater emphasis must be placed on prevention if we want to reduce the incidence of youth violence” (Kellerman et al., 1998). The more preventive resources that are available to address the issue at hand than the better the chances are to reduce gun violence among juveniles. Just from a response perspective we collectively cannot just throw the response to a single apparatus to resolve the issue.
Starting on a micro-level to address juvenile gun violence we need to look at the caveat of various factors that allow for the possibility for youth to obtain firearms. We have looked at the first level of response to attempt to address youth firearm violence. Now the place to start is “Many problems with juvenile behavior can be traced to family discord, maladaptive parenting styles, and poor communication” (Kellerman et al. 1998). If a juvenile lives in a dysfunctional family in most cases, they can be affected by the environment from within the walls of the home itself.
In connection, family dysfunction is the struggle that makes the juvenile want to lash out against the world at large because they do not know how to express their emotions. To understand the issue, it can be noted that “Adolescent violence is a complex societal problem with a multitude of factors, including individual-level characteristics; family functioning and peer influences; and community and societal influences” (Komro 1999). Each of these factors helps to contribute to the actions of juveniles to turn to gun violence.
Preventive efforts should be in the first line of defense to reduce youth gun violence. It is important to attempt to make headway in terms of attempting to address youth gun violence through preventive measures. It’s important to understand that prevention comes in many forms such as these “two strategies designed to impact overall availability of firearms include banning of high-risk firearms and increasing taxes” (Komro 1999).
Both steps can help to attempt to limit access to firearms from juveniles and prevent aggravated assaults and homicides from guns. On a larger scale such as a “Communities enacting juvenile curfews have reported reductions in crime ranging from 10% to 27% during curfew hours” (Kellerman et al. 1998). By reducing the number of juveniles out late at night placing a curfew in place would help deter possibly gun-related activities because police would more than likely enhance their presence with more patrols.
For example, when looking at the legal system, we have to have a response including “Law enforcement and Juvenile Justice are an essential element of social response to juvenile violence, but they are not sufficient to control the problem” (Kellerman et al. 1998). In support of the legal system, a large majority of laws related to the criminal justice system have been crafted by legislative bodies of different states and at large country governments.
An idea of legislation that was passed to help address juvenile gun violence was the “Brady Handgun Violence prevention act was The Brady act required a 5 day waiting period and criminal background check for handgun purchases, regulations that would make it more difficult for criminals and youths to purchase firearms from an FFL” (Komro 1999). Having laws pushed and championed by representatives in an attempt to address youth violence is important to address juvenile violence.
In most cases with laws that are passed, by lawmakers often try to address loopholes by producing more laws to help support other laws that were passed. Another law that was passed to help stim the tide of gun violence in America was “the youth handgun safety act of 1994 prohibits the possession of handguns by anyone under the age 18 (with a number of exceptions hunting, employment, firearm safety training) and provides criminal sanctions of up to 10 years with anyone convicted of providing a handgun to a person under 18”( Komro 1999). On a social level this a pretty fair response to create laws because laws can then be used to attempt to reduce the flow of firearms into the hands of criminals and juveniles alike.
As laws are put into place, there are various ways to support these laws through enforcement through the legal system. Then enter the police officers, courts, prosecutors, and jail systems each have different roles in the criminal justice system. When, dealing with juvenile gun violence these are often the next components in terms of addressing these types of crimes in their ways. Once Laws are enacted, the judicial system has to do its part in terms of responding to juvenile gun violence through these laws.
It can be noted that “federal and state legislators have sought to impose stiffer penalties on youth are found guilty of violent crimes be tried in adult court rather than juvenile court” (Blumstein 2002). These are the prime reasons why lawmakers pass tougher laws and in conjunction any time a violent crime is acted upon by juveniles that the sentence guidelines are enacted under which the judge in court has the authority to do so. Laws of this nature allow prosecutors to have the ability to sentence a juvenile with the highest sentence available in an attempt to rectify the juvenile’s actions.
Policing also plays a role in how to attempt to stop or moderately slow down juvenile firearm violence. There are many different approaches from law enforcement in an attempt to curve violent gun violence. A major strategy that is broadly used by law enforcement is “enforcement and investigation into the illegal sources of firearms and disruption of the illegal market will help reduce youth access” (Komro 1999).
Investigations are supported by law enforcement gives police the ability to find illegal firearms and work all other law enforcement agencies. Methods that law enforcement needs to use in addition to investigations and enforcement is “identification and suppression of hot spots in one example research has shown that crime is highly concentrated in identifiable neighborhoods and even addresses” (Kellerman et.al. 1998). By narrowing down areas where firearm violence is known to happen a proactive plan can be put in place to ensure that a heightened law enforcement presences in a neighborhood.
There is a multitude of strategies to combat youth gun violence in the toolbox of law enforcement under various concepts. These policing concepts include “community policing, problem-oriented policing, and order-maintenance policing, police departments launched a variety of new approaches to chronic problems of crime and disorder” (Fagan 2002). Many cities across America approached law enforcement to determine how they can address the rise in gun violence in their respective community. The policing concepts above were placed at the forefront from a policing standpoint in an attempt to reduce youth gun violence. Police are just one part of the response required from the legal system to help address youth gun violence.
While youth gun violence often causes great harm to society, in general, the worst of the damage in society is upon those who have least the African American and Hispanic youth. Collectively at the forefront, we as a society have to ensure that there is a balanced approach from the family structure, legal system and, community outreach to address youth gun violence.
- Blumstein, A. (2002). Youth, guns, and violent crime. The Future of Children, 12(2), 38-53. doi: http://dx.doi.org.uscupstate.idm.oclc.org/10.2307/1602737
- Fagan, J. (2002). Policing guns and youth violence. The Future of Children, 12(2), 132-51. doi: http://dx.doi.org.uscupstate.idm.oclc.org/10.2307/1602743
- Kellermann, A. L., Fuqua-Whitley, D., Rivara, F. P., & Mercy, J. (1998). Preventing youth violence: What works? Annual Review of Public Health, 19, 271-92. Retrieved from https://uscupstate.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.uscupstate.idm.oclc.org/docview/235220219?accountid=28698
- Komro, K. A. (1999). Adolescents’ access to firearms: Epidemiology and prevention. Journal of Health Education, 30(5), 290. Retrieved from https://uscupstate.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.uscupstate.idm.oclc.org/docview/1437931500?accountid=28698
- Loughran, T. A., Reid, J. A., Collins, M. E., & Mulvey, E. P. (2016). Effect of gun-carrying on perceptions of risk among adolescent offenders. American Journal of Public Health, 106(2), 350-352. doi: http://dx.doi.org.uscupstate.idm.oclc.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302971
- Rodriguez, N. L. (2017). Diane Marano: Juvenile offenders and guns: Voices behind gun violence: Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY, 2015, 210 pp, ISBN: 978-1-137-52013-5. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(7), 1622-1625. doi: http://dx.doi.org.uscupstate.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0636-1