Why does a sixteen-year-old have a gun?

A sixteen-year-old was shot and killed by a police officer in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday. Following a tip from an off-duty police officer who witnessed guns being tossed over a fence at an event at Sawyer Point on the river front, the police tracked several teens into downtown Cincinnati. One police officer struggled with a teen they had followed and then the teen drew his gun. The officer fired two shots into the teen, one of which pierced his aorta. You can read the entire story, Officer had no Choice by Sharon Coolidge and Dan Horn at Cincinnati.com.

The incident occurred on Fountain Square in the center of downtown where hundreds of people regularly gather to enjoy live music, have a meal at surrounding restaurants, or watch videos on a large screen television. Armed with impressive statistics regarding the reduction of violence in the urban area over the past nine years,  police and local officials are busy doing damage control calling it an “isolated incident” and saying that gunshots on Fountain Square are “an anomaly.”

The city and developers have put a lot of money into rebuilding and renovating the Fountain Square area. The improvements have been successful at attracting people downtown for entertainment. Developers and city officials don’t want a sixteen-year-old with a gun ruining the renaissance the downtown area is experiencing.

This shooting followed closely on the heels of a another police shooting near Findlay Market in the Over the Rhine area of downtown Cincinnati on Friday.

Fortunately no one is opposing the police officer’s action on Saturday. In the story linked above, Coolidge and Horn write, “Former NAACP President, Chris Smitherman, a City Council candidate who has been critical of police in the past, attended the chief’s press conference and commended him and the mayor for their handling of the shootings.”

What I want to know is, why does a sixteen-year-old have a gun?

How did he get it? Who is providing weapons to teenagers? I just don’t believe all these guns are stolen. I think someone is selling guns to kids. Maybe someone should be focused on the source of the guns.

More than how he got the gun, though, I’d like to know why does he have it? Does it make him feel big? Does it give him status? Does he feel he needs it to protect himself?

The sad irony is, this gun did not protect this sixteen-year-old kid. This gun got him killed.

15 thoughts on “Why does a sixteen-year-old have a gun?”

  1. This is such a complex issue — I don’t fully understand the complexities of today’s current culture surrounding youth violence, so I don’t know any answers you’re looking for. But I agree that regardless, if there was no access to guns then there couldn’t be this kind of tragedy (and I do view it as a tragedy for all — that poor police officer’s life will never be the same). I think you’ve hit on a deep, wide, and sad societal issue…

    1. I agree with you about the police officer. The 16-year-old likely had, at minimum, a mother who cared about him. It’s all very sad. We can go to the moon. I can speak with someone on the other side of the world. I can see images from around the globe in an instant. But we can’t seem to fix this.

      Maybe there’s not enough money in it. Jaded, I know.

  2. A gang leader in the UK was shot dead by police, he had a gun. However, even though he had a gun he had rights – what rights I ask myself? It is illegal to carry a gun so why was he carrying it. Riots broke out and looting was prevelant?
    Why was a 16year old carrying a gun in US or indeed anywhere? Why? because we live in a broken society where the criminal has more rights than the victims. We never used to have these problems years ago so why now? Why? Human rights…

  3. Miami is no where near as bad as LA but there are dozens and dozens of teens, none of which go to school, just got out of jail, waiting to enter jail, have been in jail, have cases pending, are on parole, have skipped bond, and every one pf them has a gun. Drive-by shootings are a far to often occurance in the city.

  4. The sad truth is that guns don’t solve anything. The right to own guns doesn’t help anything. The rules regarding guns don’t do anything. It is truly a sad, sad, situation.

    1. I feel pretty scared about some of the gun laws we have, or don’t have, I suppose I should say. But the truth is, it wasn’t legal for this 16-year-old to even have a gun. If he would have turned it on the crowd, I think we would have had a different story and heightened level of panic.

      I feel sad for him and for those who loved him. Misguided.

  5. This scenario is becoming more prevalent all the time. I’m afraid I agree with the motto, “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” It seems likely there will always be a black market of untraceable weapons. Almost every day our paper reports another shooting (or more) in our area. I have no answers, but I pray someone will find some pretty soon.

    1. You know, everyone wants to be able to have a gun to defend themselves, yet I rarely hear, in fact I can’t remember ever hearing, when someone successfully defended themselves with a gun. I suppose it has happened, but you have to weigh that against how many accidents happen as a result, and how many kids get access to a gun in the home. One of my son’s classmate’s shot himself with his father’s gun because he was mad about being grounded and missing out on a football game. He was in the 6th grade. After being in intensive care and on life support for several days, he died. 6th grade.

      Personally, I’m not a big fan of guns.

  6. Hi Christine .. our gun laws are much stricter .. yet even they found ccctv footage of people (kids) shooting at the police and up in the air at a police helicopter .. during our recent riots.

    What is life for … certainly not to kill or wound in a society that offers so much. I too have no answers .. perhaps the most important thing for us all – is to set the best example we can to society as a whole.

    Thanks – a very uneasy situation .. Hilary


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