Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Young People Need Future without Assault Weapons

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Young People Need Future without Assault Weapons

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

One of my more surreal moments at my 30th year Raines High School class reunion cruise last month came one night in a bar.

There I was, drinking and laughing with a classmate who used to tease me unmercifully during my high school days.

For the life of me, though, I couldn't remember what it was that she used to tease me about. And neither could she.

But that was all to the good. Point is, she and I lived long enough to see whatever petty animosities that we may have had toward each other as kids boil away, leaving behind the raw material that eternal bonds are made of.

It's too bad that some kids will wind up shooting each other rather than give themselves a chance to form such a bond. Too many guns make it easier to silence a nemesis than to outwit or ignore her, or to simply grow up and get amnesia about it.

What's more is that many don't realize that a shotgun blast won't solve their problems. In fact, it will create another problem for them - a prison sentence.

Probably for the rest of their lives.

"Guns come out these days with such little provocation," Assistant Public Defender Patrick McGuinness told me. "They come out so much that they [shooters] don't even care if they hit the person they're aiming for or someone else ...

"Some of these kids don't even contemplate the notion of being 30 anyway ... so they don't care about what happens next."

Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for youths in Duval County. According to a report by the Jacksonville Children's Commission, homicides of children aged 18 and younger made up 12 percent of all the city's murders from 1990 to 2005.

In a January series on murder in Jacksonville, the Times-Union discovered that, of 136 people accused in gun homicides over the past three years, one out of every eight was a juvenile.

What that means is that a lot of them won't be around at class reunion time - if they were in school at all.

McGuinness, for example, told me about a 13-year-old who fatally shot a woman during a robbery attempt.

He's now locked up for life. …

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