We need to face juvenile gun crime head on

Published 7:48 pm Saturday, February 17, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The deadly shooting in Kansas City this week continues to shine light on a problem facing not just the Miss-Lou, but the entire nation.

Two days after a barrage of gunfire interrupted a celebration for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, two juveniles have been arrested and were being held on gun charges and resisting arrest.

The juveniles were taken into custody after the mass shooting that left one woman dead and wounded 22 others, including several children, at the victory celebration for the football team.

Email newsletter signup

Since the incident occurred, officials and commentators have talked about “groups of people shooting at each other” and hinted that some sort of gang-related activity could be the cause. And with the arrests of juveniles, that cause certainly seems plausible.

We know a good deal about juveniles and gun-related crimes here in the Miss-Lou. Just consider the recent headlines: three teenagers being detained on a variety of felony charges – with one also charged with a previous shooting death – are believed to have shot a local woman in a carjacking while on the run in Natchez for four days; a teenager was shot and left to die on a Jefferson County roadway and two Natchez teenagers are among those charged in the murder; and a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old are among those arrested this week for the shooting death of a 20-year-old Ferriday man.

Teenagers. Guns. Conflict. Violence.

It’s a recurring theme and an ever-growing problem.

And, the truth is, we can offer no easy remedy. Calling for gun control or more parental involvement in children’s lives might be a popular soapbox, but it’s not a solution. The challenge of curtailing the increasing violence among teenagers requires facing some difficult truths about our society and our culture, from the loss of faith and moral traditions to the eroding of the traditional family unit and the lack of a “village” to replace that support. We have to consider and address issues as wide-ranging as the cultural acceptance of violence (consider the popularity of first-person shooter video games) to the challenges of economics and class. We have to consider how our law enforcement and judicial systems deal with juvenile crime, and we have to consider how much time, energy and yes, money we want to invest as a society to combat it.

And those questions only scratch the surface.

The truth is our children are more exposed to violence, and more likely to turn to violence to resolve issues, than ever before. Just ask any teacher or social worker or beat cop who works with children on a daily basis.

And it’s a problem we need to face, head-on, for our sake and for the sake of our children.