Juvenile gun arrests in Boston have more than doubled in the first quarter of 2017, according to police data analyzed by the Boston Herald.
So far in 2017, there have been 19 juvenile gun-related arrests, a more than 100 percent uptick from the first three months of last year. The charges range from warrants for previous gun crimes to illegal possession of a firearm.
“Obviously, there are too many guns,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh told the Herald. “I don’t think we’re at epidemic proportions. But the fact that we have one juvenile with a gun is epidemic. We work at this every single day.”
Teenagers such as Carlos Barbosa, who takes part in a youth community group called Teen Empowerment, spoke on how kids would bring guns to middle school, hiding the firearms outside and then retrieving them when school let out.
Barbosa, who lives in the poorer Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, said many just wanted “to protect themselves” from “their own community,” but also noted they were following examples set by their elders.
“The younger kids who, in like sixth grade or fifth grade, don’t really know, like, the power of a gun, they just have it, say, ‘Oh I have a gun, I’m cool, I’m like my brother or my father,’ ” he said.
Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans also spoke to the Herald about the issue.
“Our goal isn’t to get theses kids in trouble, it’s to prevent a tragedy,” Evans said. “Honestly, it’s all about prevention.”
“I don’t know whether it’s part of the gang culture to think carrying a gun is cool, but that’s the culture we have to change,” Evans continued. “We need everybody’s help. When it’s left to us, usually there’s some court involvement. We want the parents, we want all the clergy to step up. We do get help from some of the community, but obviously we can use more.”
Monica Cannon, also a Roxbury resident and former community liaison for the anti-violence group ROCA, told the Herald that many juveniles living in areas with high crime rates “are living in fear.”
“They’re navigating neighborhoods that are not safe,” she said. “There’s a tale of two cities. There’s the Boston that the mayor sees and the Boston that communities of color see every day.”