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If gang violence was truly driving the gun homicide rate, we should not see gang membership and gun homicide rates moving in opposite directions. The most recent Centers for Disease Control study on this subject lends further credence to our claim. In these cities, a total of gang and 2, non-gang homicides were identified and included in the analyses. So, even when examining cities with the largest gang problems, gang homicides only accounted for 29 percent of the total for the period under consideration For the nation as a whole it would be much smaller.
The 80 percent of gang-related gun homicides figure purporting to support Loesch's claim, then, is not only false, but off by nearly a factor of five. The direct opposite is necessarily true: more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related. While gang violence is still a serious problem that needs to be addressed, it is disingenuous to assert that the vast majority of our gun problem even excluding suicides is caused by gangs. In spite of this, LaPierre's proposed solution to gun violence is to "contact every U.
Attorney and ask them to bring at least 10 cases per month against drug dealers, gang members and other violent felons caught illegally possessing firearms.
Looking at just violent felons excludes a huge subset of potential criminals that become violent in the presence of a firearm. Gun advocates' blind focus on gangs, drugs and violent felons overlooks the larger gun problem facing America. It is irresponsible and disingenuous for some of us to brush off our staggering death toll from firearms merely as the product of gangs or even violent criminals.
Recognizing America's high homicide rate for what it is -- a gun problem -- is the first step in solving it. Need help? In the U. Do you have information you want to share with HuffPost? US Edition U. News U. HuffPost Personal Video Horoscopes.
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The interview guide consisted of both open- and closed-ended questions about the youths' experiences with and attitudes about guns. Questions were developed after extensive literature review and consultation with experts in youth violence, and included modified versions of some questions used in previous studies. They were classified as "gun experienced" if they had owned a gun or carried one out of their home. Those who indicated that they had not owned a firearm were asked why they had not acquired a gun. Those who had owned a firearm were asked whether there was any time when they wanted a gun but could not acquire one.
If the respondent indicated that there had been such an incident, they were asked why they were unable to do so. Individuals who reported that they had carried a firearm were asked what kept them from carrying a firearm all of the time. Respondents were also asked about their motivations for obtaining guns. Questions were also asked about participants' age, race, place of residence, exposure to violence, and involvement in delinquent activities such as drug dealing and weapon use.
Finally, adolescents were asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how safe they felt in their neighborhood. Given the qualitative nature of this study, the questions varied slightly as the interviews proceeded. This process reflects the iterative nature of data gathering and analysis in qualitative research.
Occasionally, this resulted in some questions being omitted from an interview. Two researchers independently read through the transcripts and assigned codes to each separate idea. The coded transcripts were compared and differences were discussed and resolved. In addition, the portions of the transcripts that contained the same codes were examined together and recurrent themes were identified. In the analysis, we included only those factors that the adolescents reported as having affected their own behavior.
Trustworthiness of the data, a qualitative approximation of validity and reliability, was addressed in several ways.
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First, enrollment of the subjects continued until new themes were no longer being heard. Second, each transcript was coded by 2 researchers. Finally, the research team assessed the face validity of the responses. Mean ranks were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test. Of the 45 participants, 25 were from the short-term facility and 20 were from the longer-term facility.
Only 1 eligible and selected youth refused to participate. The mean age of those who participated in the study was Twenty-seven participants had lived in the city and 17 were from a suburban county or small town. Gun-experienced youth also tended to rate their neighborhoods as being less safe than did youth not experienced with guns 5. While the power to detect differences was limited by the small sample size, statistically significant differences were not found between the 2 groups with respect to age and program in the facility.
For the most part, the factors limiting gun acquisition and carrying were similar between those with and those without gun experience. As a result, this article combines the responses from both groups, commenting on differences where relevant Table 2. Each of these reasons could be classified within an economic market framework as either a supply- or demand-side factor. Demand-side factors were defined as those factors that reduce a youth's desire to acquire or carry a gun, such as perceived risks or low expectations of benefit from having or carrying a gun.
In some instances, it was difficult to differentiate whether certain cited factors were operating by affecting gun acquisition or gun carrying. As such, throughout this article, the term gun involvement is used when referring to both acquisition and carrying. Lack of a source from which to acquire a gun was not mentioned as a reason that those without any gun experience did not acquire a gun.
However, more than a quarter of those with gun experience described times when they could not acquire a desired gun at the time they needed or wanted one because of difficulties in locating a suitable gun source. One youth who had previously owned several guns described his search for an automatic weapon: "I had to call several people, page several people, finally a friend of mine said he found one in [another state].
It was a friend of a friend. I took my car and drove down there. One of these youths said it took him 3 months to acquire a desired gun. When asked whether there was anyone else from whom he could have bought the gun, he replied: "Yes, I just don't trust them like that. He explained this concern noting that a person unknown to him may sell him a used gun that was used to commit a murder without telling him of this fact. Another factor preventing gun acquisition was the price of the gun.
As mentioned previously, these youth indicated a reluctance to acquire used guns out of fear that the gun may have been used in a previous crime for which they could potentially be held responsible. I had money but I didn't want no gun off the street. They probably kill somebody and pass it to me, and I get caught with it. Those with a desire for higher-quality guns also reported instances in which they did not acquire a gun or delayed getting one because they could not afford the type they wanted. Fear of being arrested and possibly incarcerated was the most prominent reason that youth limited or avoided gun involvement.
Comments such as "The cops are too strict where I live. In addition, adolescents with gun experience, some heavily involved, were also extremely cognizant of police presence and the consequences of getting arrested while in possession of a gun. While the majority of the gun-experienced adolescents were able to give specific examples of times when they altered their gun-carrying patterns to avoid getting caught and incarcerated, a few actually never carried their guns out of the house for fear of getting caught.
The adolescents perceived that severe penalties would occur if they were caught with a gun and therefore took many measures to avoid this outcome. Some described how they would not carry a gun if others in their group had one, "so we don't [all] get locked up for the same purpose. To avoid a "double charge" enhanced sentence —getting arrested for both drug dealing and gun possession—participants described stashing their guns nearby.
This is depicted by one youth's answer to the question of why he did not keep the gun on him.
He said, "Police. Because police might jump out on me.
Factors Preventing Gun Acquisition and Carrying Among Incarcerated Adolescent Males
While stashing of guns demonstrates the efforts that adolescents will go to to avoid getting caught with a gun, it does not alter the fact that they have almost immediate access to their guns. Several participants, however, were able to give examples where the visibility and presence of police caused them or others to leave their guns elsewhere. One youth recalled a time when police increased their surveillance of a certain area following a shoot-out.
During this period, the adolescent elected to leave his gun at a friend's house to avoid getting caught with a weapon. Even when adolescents carried a gun, about half admitted that carrying guns sometimes made them anxious. Much of this anxiety stemmed from concern about getting caught with a gun, either by a family member or, more commonly, by the police.
As expressed by one youth, "It had my heart beatin' fast. I don't know why. I didn't want it to be in my hand.
Caught in the Crossfire: Children and Gun Violence
I didn't want to have it. I didn't want to get caught with it, be asked for it. I do worry about police stopping me. The opinions of others, both friends and relatives, prevented a number of these participants from acquiring guns. In addition, some of those who owned guns did not carry them at certain times and in certain places, out of respect for friends and relatives who did not approve of such activities.
Interestingly, it was almost exclusively female relatives and friends—mothers, grandmothers, aunts, girlfriends, and girlfriends' mothers—who exerted this influence on the youths' gun-carrying practices. An example is the youth who would not allow his friends to bring their guns into his grandmother's house out of respect for her. Almost one third of the gun-experienced adolescents and one half of those without such experience cited concern about hurting themselves or others as a reason why they sometimes avoided guns.