Keep guns out of kids’ hands, Memphis police director says

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Crime is an issue frequently discussed in the Mid-South, but now an alarming trend is pre-teens committing violent crimes.

The Shelby County Crime Commission reports violent crime among juveniles is up nearly 60% this year. Last week the community was shocked to learn a 12-year-old tried to carjack a woman in a Kroger parking lot.

"We had a 12-year-old try to commit a crime with a loaded gun. The amount of juvenile crime especially violent crime is alarming," Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said.

And if youth aren’t committing the crimes, they’re afraid of being victim to one.

WREG spoke to another 12-year-old who has witnessed a shooting on North Watkins on Sunday afternoon. He was fearful he would be the next headline.

"I don't want to get killed," the boy said. "I started to cry. It was really making me nervous because gun shots, I don't really like guns like that."

He’s OK, at least physically, but there are too many other parents burying their kids at the hands of their peers.

"I talk to way too many grieving mothers, distraught, devastated family members from victims of juvenile crime or being victimized by juveniles. We have to do something,” Rallings said.

He said people can start with keeping guns out of the hands of children.

"Also we can reduce access to guns, and that’s something the state legislature has refused to do despite our violence problem, despite the proliferation of guns in Tennessee.”

Instead, he said people should be showing kids the path to a brighter future.

"The first issue is parenting. Our parents have to get more involved, but in the absence of parenting we have to have engaged community members that are wrapping around these young people giving them something positive to do. Giving them positive role models.”

 

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