Texas Tribune — Guns in Texas


“It’s hell”: Surge of Texas kids dying from gun violence carves canyons of grief through families. In 2012, around 100 Texans under 18 died of gunshot wounds. Last year, that number reached nearly 300.

Texas Tribune
by Alejandro Serrano and Susie Webb
October 30, 2023

… The available numbers on gun violence affecting children only hint at a complex problem that contains immeasurable impacts. Each death carves a canyon of grief through families and communities. Confusion and pain grow through the void left by the untimely end to a young life.

… Researchers and police have struggled to find answers about individual shootings and the overall increase in deaths. “You’re watching this like it’s a pandemic starting to take off, and you want to intervene now to head off further increases,” said Dr. Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

In 2012, state figures show, roughly three out of every 100,000 lives between the ages of 12 and 17 were ended with guns. Last year, gun deaths for that age group jumped to about eight out of 100,000 Texas teens.

… Criminologists have said more guns may have contributed to increases in violence across the country since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the mix of police brutality and the many stresses caused by the pandemic that contributed to overall unrest. Evidence shows social media may be fueling youth violence with spats beginning online before quickly evolving into lethal action.

But it’s wrong to think this is only a young-person problem — kids reflect the culture, said Butts, the John Jay criminologist. Kids grow up seeing guns and shootings on big screens, hearing about them in popular songs, and practicing drills at school in case there is a shooting there. They also hear that they need one to protect themselves, he said. Guns are seen as a symbol of protection and strength.

“Why are we shocked?” he said.

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