Why do people carry guns? Generally, it’s so they can be safe. They’re worried about a violent attack and so they bring a gun in case that happens so they can defend themselves.
Here’s the thing a lot of people miss: A lot of folks who carry illegally do so for the same reason. Take the uptick in younger people carrying in Brooklyn, for example.
More young people are carrying guns out of fear for their lives and for the safety of their families, according to a report released Monday.
The study from the Center for Justice Innovation was based on conversations with more than 100 residents of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, between the ages of 14 and 24. It came as counts of firearms in schools have reached double digits and a troubling surge in youth violence has taken the lives of multiple young people.
Roughly 14% of those arrested for shootings so far this year were younger than 18, police data show, and 10% of the city’s shooting victims were under 18. On Monday afternoon, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the back and critically wounded in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, cops said.
Three-quarters of those interviewed said they carry guns because they fear dying, while 72% feared someone harming their families, researchers found. They described mostly being fearful of two groups: police and “opps,” including rival gang members or other competitors outside the mainstream economy — like in drug dealing and scams to make ends meet.
Now, it should be noted that the “young people” include an awful lot of lawful adults who are old enough to buy handguns and get a concealed carry permit if they’re eligible to do so.
However, it sounds like most of them aren’t.
And let’s remember that Brooklyn is subject to all of that New York gun control, which apparently isn’t doing much to keep guns out of these people’s hands.
Yet the study also provides a useful glimpse into some other aspects of what’s driving the violence in Brooklyn and likely well beyond.
The young people also described social media as a factor because they do not want to appear weak when challenged online. The majority of participants reported watching violent videos weekly or more often, with nearly two-thirds seeing such videos daily.
“It’s just basically regular people dissing my side, and we’re dissing their side. But they do it more on the internet, and that gets us mad,” said a 17-year-old boy. “We just got to do what we’ve got to do.”
In other words, people talk smack on the internet–something I think each of us is all too familiar with, really–and then those tough words lead to real-world violence because weakness isn’t tolerated.
I’ve said before that our inner cities are honor cultures. If you’re disrespected, the onus is on you to act or else you’ll lose face among your peers. They feel they have to do something, so they find the person who showed them that disrespect and try to shoot them.
Even if they are unsuccessful, it shows they won’t back down, which earns them status.
The flip side, though, is that now people who engage in that kind of talk–and most involved in gang culture do–feel like they have to carry a gun.
It’s not unique to Brooklyn.
The study also suggested some interventions that could be explored in the neighborhoods,