More juveniles than ever are committing gun violence (and other forms of violence), and at an increasingly young age. Yet they are 100% restricted from purchasing or owning any firearm. In other words, there is unconditional gun control on all juveniles, even in red states. So why are we witnessing more juvenile murderers and victims than ever before? Because our criminal justice system refuses to deter and punish even repeat juvenile gun felons who commit violent crimes with guns. Hence, the classic proof that criminal control, not gun control, is the only way to stop violent crime.
Last week, I wrote a column quantifying the extent of the jailbreak problem with cities releasing repeat violent gun felons onto the streets and then complaining about gun violence. But this problem is exponentially more acute – and increasingly so – when it comes to juvenile gun felons because they are almost never punished one iota. As such, they are engaging in gun crimes more often and at an increasingly young age.
Recently, Montgomery County, Ohio, Juvenile Judge Anthony Capizzi remarked that juvenile gun violence is worse than it has ever been in Ohio. “There was unanimous agreement that there’s been a spike in violence in their counties focusing on juveniles and guns,” the judge said. “This year is the worst we’ve had and a number of us are worried about the rest of the summer.”
The judge feigned ignorance as to the reason behind this odious trend and resolved to “find new ways to predict” how certain juveniles will strike. But the problem, while vexing, is no mystery. Children caught carjacking people with guns rarely get punished with hard prison time – whether in a regular or juvenile facility. Ohio, like many states, is experiencing a juvenile carjacking crisis. As such, it’s not hard to understand how this eventually escalates into mass shootings, which are now taking the lives of young children in record numbers.
The answer to the problem is as simple as the diagnosis: Come down hard on juveniles who engage in gun crimes and other violent crimes. We’re not talking about simple drug possession, driving infractions, or shoplifting, for which one might want to be more lenient on a minor. As Reagan’s task force on victims of crime observed four decades ago: “Armed robbery, rape, and murder cannot be laid at the door of mere immaturity or youthful exuberance. The victims of these crimes are no less traumatized because the offender was under age.”
The juvenile crime problem in states like Ohio is increasing rapidly. WYXS reports the number of new felony case filings among juveniles per month rose from 91 in 2019 to 115 within the first 12 weeks of 2021. “The most common charges filed include assault, aggravated menacing, and robbery.” These are serious crimes that endanger the public and cannot be dismissed as harmless juvenile delinquency. One child as young as 14 years old recently threw a pregnant woman out of her car during a carjacking, then crashed her car into a fire hydrant, resulting in the flooding of an entire street. It’s doubtful that criminal will be punished in a meaningful way.
Recently, a 12-year-old was arrested for four armed carjackings in an hour in Washington, D.C. Overall, carjackings in D.C. have increased around 500% and are mainly driven by juvenile criminals, including the shocking carjacking-murder of a Pakistani Uber driver by a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old girl. Why are kids so shockingly young not afraid to brandish a gun and carjack people? Because they’ve watched their older compatriots get away scot-free. Even in the murder case, the maximum sentence for the girls will be serving in juvenile hall until age 21. Thus, it’s not surprising that a lack of deterrent against juvenile carjackers armed with guns will lead to more juvenile shootings.
Whenever police are forced to confront these criminals who are armed with a gun or a knife, the corrupt political system lashes out at the cops for being forced to shoot “children,” but they don’t seem to realize that these kids are slaughtering other kids. The lack of deterrent is resulting in a record number of homicides among juveniles, with our major cities becoming shooting galleries for young children every day. Just during the first five months of this year, 11 children under the age of 15 were murdered, more than in all of 2019. CBS in Philadelphia reports that in the City of Brotherly Love, they have already recorded 81 juvenile shooting victims, and “police say they’re also increasingly the perpetrators of crime.”
I have a novel idea: How about locking up gun felons, including juvenile ones? If the politicians are too squeamish to place them in regular prisons, they should at least be held in juvenile facilities so they are taken off the streets during the prime years of their criminal career. It will take a few years of these policies for the next generation of teens to realize that crime no longer pays.
Shockingly, the leftists are moving in the opposite direction, releasing even more of them, and focusing on banning random rifle accessories that are never used in street shootings and are only used by law-abiding hunters and sportsmen. Data from Hamilton County, Ohio, the third most populous county in the state, shows there’s been a 39% decrease in juvenile detentions since last year, despite skyrocketing juvenile crime. County judges report a record number of juvenile gun felons, and they are currently holding 10 juvenile murder suspects, a phenomenon never seen before. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that when you release the carjackers, a number of them will go on to commit murder.
Gun felons are known for endless recidivism. According to a recent study completed by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 68% of firearms offenders released from federal prison in 2005 were rearrested for a new crime during the eight-year follow-up period, compared to 43% of non-firearms offenders. Firearms offenders also recidivated quicker and often went on to commit more serious crimes than non-firearms felons. This study only included adult criminals. The numbers are likely even higher among juvenile gun felons who are barely punished and have a much longer criminal career ahead of them. The ultimate gun control measure would take these people off the streets.
Instead, the ATF retroactively made felons of law-abiding gun owners by essentially banning pistol braces. The ATF continues to target rifles and rifle accessories, which have nothing to do with the street violence. They continue to cast a wide net by pursuing “red flag” laws to flag anyone whom they view as politically dangerous while ignoring those who actually have harmed people with guns.
According to the FBI, in 2019, just 364 of the homicides or .02% of the murders that year were committed with rifles. Over 6,000 homicides were committed with handguns, mainly simple 9mm pistols with no accessories that look like “assault” rifles or “weapons of war.” Aside from handguns, 1,476 murders were committed with knives or sharp objects, quadruple the number of homicides committed with rifles. 600 murders were committed with body parts and 297 with blunt objects like clubs and hammers.
But fear not, so long as we ban pistol braces and bump stocks, we can release as many juvenile carjackers as possible.