A shooting that killed one teenager and injured two others At a bus stop in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville on Wednesday morning, the total number of children with gunshot wounds this year exceeded last year’s total.
Eighty-two children and teens 17 and under have been injured in shootings in Louisville so far this year, according to a preliminary tally from Christopher 2X, whose nonprofit Game Changers tracks the shootings in as part of its violence prevention efforts.
Last year, 80 children and adolescents were victims of non-fatal shootings.
The city has already surpassed the total of 16 miners killed last year. The 16-year-old boy killed Wednesday morning is the 21st young homicide victim of 2021.
âWe have a big problem,â 2X said.
“Our future is dying”:Gun violence kills more Louisville children than ever
Louisville is not alone. St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Tulsa are among other US cities struggling with recent spikes in gun violence.
But Jefferson County’s juvenile homicide rate of 4.7 murders per 100,000 children was more than double the national rate of 2.1 from 2010 to 19, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since May 2020, Louisville has recorded 17 consecutive months of double-digit homicide totals, according to police records.
âWe’ve never been in this territory like this,â 2X said. “We cannot live with double-digit homicides every month.”
Theories abound as to the reasons for the increased bloodshed. But most criminologists warn against pinning a sudden spike in shootings on a single cause.
One of the factors, some say, is the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain the deadly virus, which have resulted in job losses, school closures and disruption of social services.
This, in turn, caused particularly harsh destabilization for children and families in predominantly black communities who were already grappling with disproportionate rates of gun violence and poverty that underscore decades of systemic racism and neglect by the community. part of city leaders.
Others argue that the Louisville Metro Police Department has been slow to resolve cases due to declining ranks and increasingly frayed community relations after the police murder of Breonna Taylor.
The department’s homicide resolution rate has hovered around 33% over the past two years. For non-fatal shootings, the clearance rate fell below 20%.
In other words, 8 out of 10 non-fatal shootings remain unsolved.
The lack of arrests may lead some to demand their own justice, 2X said. This perpetuates a cycle of violence that can cause more young people to be the victims – or perpetrators – of more gun violence.
âEvery child who survives a shooting is connected to others who are emotionally attached to this problem,â he said. “And they can’t deal with these things in a measured way, which will most likely result in retaliation.”
The cycle of violence is often fueled by social media, where conflicts between individuals or groups can quickly spiral out of control. And these oxen are too often ruled with easily accessible weapons.
Deadly weapons in the wrong hands:What you need to know about the Kentucky guns dilemma
It is estimated that just over half of Kentucky’s 3.5 million adults live in homes with a gun, while in Louisville, nearly 10,000 guns have been reported stolen from 2014 to 2019, an average of four firearms taken each day.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Louisville Police Chief Erika Shields lamented the proliferation of illegal guns on city streets and pleaded with gun owners to responsibly store their guns and not to leave them in cars.
But as The Courier Journal found in a three-part series, “Flooded with gunsÂ», The calls made were largely ineffective.
From 2014 to 2019, at least 1,100 guns were stolen from vehicles across Louisville, the report revealed. At least seven of these weapons were stolen from police cars.
The investigation also showed that the state requires the Kentucky Police Department to resell to the public all confiscated firearms that cannot legally be returned to their owners, putting even more guns on the streets.
Meanwhile, there are no state laws requiring gun owners to keep their guns safe or immediately report lost or stolen guns to the police, and efforts to pass such laws have been stalled. several times in the Kentucky legislature.
State law also prevents Louisville and other municipalities from passing gun ordinances locally. But on Wednesday, State Representative Josie Raymond, who represents the 31st District, said on Twitter that she had called for a bill that would allow Louisville to regulate guns.
“Louisville lawmakers have tried this before,” the Louisville Democrat said in her tweet. “This time we have to be successful, for our children.”
Louisville officials have allocated nearly $ 20 million in next year’s budget for public safety efforts. But Eddie Woods, who heads the violence prevention nonprofit No More Red Dots, said the problem is not one that can be solved only by the city or the police.
“It’s a community problem,” he said. “It’s not a spectator sport. Anyone can help.”