The Effects of Recent Teen Gun Violence Events

Ryan Gardner

Gun violence has mentally and physically impacted American teens in the black and brown community because on October 16th teen boys Milyon Colquitt and Jamele Hill died from gun violence in Willowbrook, California

 

Guns are supposed to be used for protection as an American citizen, yet it is easier for civilians with or without a permit to obtain a firearm. However, it being citizens’ right to own a weapon for one’s safety, firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens. 

The Second Amendment was passed in 1791 and gave people  the right to possess and bear arms. Although the right to bear arms does allow Americans to have their own protection, this does not mean that guns have helped prevent acts of violence.

 

“[Millyon Colquitt] was a really good kid, he just lost his mom not even a year ago,” Krystal Jackson, Colquitt’s aunt, told CBSLA.”

 

One can only imagine the grief teen boys such as Colquitt and Hill’s families have gone through, but this feeling is not uncommon. Black children and teens had the highest gun death rate in 2017 (11.2 per 100,000). For teens such as Colquitt and Hill, they are now part of these types of statistics and from this year in history will add on to the deaths America has had to endure because of the laws they allow. 

 

With guns being more accessible at anyone’s leisure, gun violence has been an epidemic for Americans and in particular, the teen community. Since 2013 there have been 878 deaths and 2,492 injuries related to gun violence for teens between the age of twelve to seventeen within the United States.

 

When interviewing teens in Los Angeles County who have been personally affected by gun violence, Jahari Crawford, a junior at Da Vinci Communications, talks about the fears he has become accustomed to while growing up as an African American in Los Angeles. 

 

“I try to avoid being in places where I don’t feel safe. And furthermore, avoid leaving the house,  and really just being out by myself. Usually, if I’m out I’ll have another person or two or three people with me to basically make sure that I’m protected at all times,” Crawford said.

 

As someone who was shocked as anyone would be, Crawford too heard of the boys who were shot and killed through mutuals who were close to Million Colquitt.  

 

 

Children and teens in the U.S. are 15 times more likely to die from gunfire than their peers in 31 other high-income countries combined. As America is a country for opportunities its rankings in categories such as gun violence for teen calls for many concerns. 

When asking Jada Mitchell, a sophomore at DaVinci Communications, how gun violence mentally affected her she shares similar thoughts as her Black peers in regard to her safety in correlation to guns. 

 

“Not just gun violence, but discrimination in the world against black people has made me paranoid. When going out and doing simple tasks, I do have that fear in the back of my head that I may be targeted. But I do not let that fear stop me. I still try to walk around as my confident self,” Mitchell said. 

Black children and teens in America are 14 times more likely than their white counterparts to die by gun homicide

The paranoia that Black teens such as Crawford and Mitchell have become accustomed to come from rooted fears that even in early childhood one can recall. Trayvon Martin was seventeen years old when he was shot and killed in Florida by George Zimmerman. Martin was unarmed with no criminal record, and acts labelled as “accidents” or when one “fits the description” is written off and gives an officer or person who did the killing the benefit of the doubt. 

When asking Da Vinci Communications sophomore Milan Saffold how gun violence has affected her she shared her timid thoughts. 

“I don’t think it has affected me personally compared to others who have actually experienced gun violence, but it does make me more cautious and a little more anxious if there is a lockdown at school or if I hear helicopters over my house,” Saffold said. 

Youth in neighborhoods that experience concentrated disadvantage can be isolated from institutions such as schools and jobs, increasing the risk that they will engage in crime and violence, thus feeding into this vicious cycle of violence. 

In similar situations to those who are not always as directly affected by gun violence, Janeé Gerard, Chemistry teacher at Da Vinci Communications, who lives in Inglewood expressed her feelings in regard to the topic of gun violence as a Southern California resident. 

“I mean it’s Los Angeles so you hear gunshots,” Gerard said when she shared a story about the time her car was hit by a bullet. “Obviously I’m white so the chances of me and my family, you know, being involved in like police brutality or gang violence is less and I’m highly aware of that and I’m highly aware of that like, the, you know, the racial backgrounds that put you in much higher danger of like racial profiling with police.” 

Over 1 million Americans have been shot in the past decade, and gun violence rates are rising across the country. When recognizing one’s privilege, it helps spread the message that acts of gun violence are injustices. Stories such as Trayvon Martin and the Willowbrook shooting are just one of many.  

“So, you know, I think I’m very aware of that, as well. And the sort of unearned privilege I have as a white person. With that, even though it does affect me but, not in the same level of concern,” Gerard expressed.  

Among black males in California, the death rate is nearly five times greater than for the state as a whole, at 37.1 per 100,000 people. For white males, the rate is 14.4; for Hispanic males, 10.1; and Asian/Pacific Islander men, 4.3, according to Everytown’s analysis.

“There are many things the government can do to prevent this but one of the easiest ways are stronger background check, like where they live (a lot of homicides come from low income areas), check mental health, where they work or if they just got fired, recent events that happened in their life like (divorce, loss of child, lost custody.. etc) and if they have a history of being in jail or have charges against them like aggravated assault,” Saffold said.