The shooting in a Newport News elementary school classroom is something I’ve written a fair bit about this week. It’s a somewhat strange story and an awful tragedy, though not as awful as it could have been since the teacher who was shot is recovering.
But it seems that this isn’t nearly as isolated as many of us would like to believe.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, it seems they’re seeing what authorities describe as a trend of kids getting guns.
Raleigh’s police chief says the city is seeing more children committing crimes with guns.
“We’re seeing that it’s trending up which is very disturbing,” said Chief Estella Patterson.
Patterson said it’s a trend her department wants to slow down.
Raleigh police say a 16-year-old fatally shot another teen on Harmony Court last week. Another teen was accused of fatally shooting five people in the Hedingham neighborhood in October 2022. And just last week, a teacher was reportedly shot by a six-year-old student in Virginia.
“We have the very disturbing tragedy that happened in Virginia just recently. It just goes again to show us that we got to be more intentional about making sure that firearms are not accessible to young people, that were securing them and that they’re not in locations where they can get to them easily,” said Patterson.
From October to December 2022, Raleigh police say 115 aggravated assaults were reported. Of those, Raleigh Police Department data showed 11 percent were committed by kids who had access to guns.
Now, this isn’t good. No one is going to pretend it is, but we also need to understand some harsh realities that I don’t think we’re getting from this report.
For example, how is the term “kid” being defined?
If it’s simply everyone under the age of 18, then that’s going to include a large number of gang members and other criminals that are technically juveniles but aren’t exactly grabbing guns from Mom or Dad’s nightstand.
Law-abiding gun owners cannot and should not be held accountable for these individuals getting guns, and there doesn’t seem to be any effort to differentiate between the two groups of kids.
Yes, armed kids are a problem. None of these kids are exactly operating with parental permission, after all.
But there are differences in how you approach each kind of situation. A kid who happens to also be a criminal likely got his gun through theft–which, arguably, so do the kids who take an unsecured gun from a parent–or via the black market. They’re essentially like any other criminal as to how they get a gun.
You can’t just say, “Lock your guns up” and assume that now everything is better. If bad guys can get guns, these criminal kids can as well.
Now, I’m not saying parents shouldn’t take steps. They absolutely should. We all have to take steps to make sure curious hands don’t find guns they shouldn’t be getting those hands on.
But let’s not pretend that gangbangers took their guns from Mommy or Daddy either.