Why Our Children Carry Guns?
At the end of March 2008, I spent the day with a 17-year-old Black male who shared with me why he carries a gun now and has carried one in the past. He lives in an urban .458 socom ammo area. His parents are middle class. He is a bright student. But he is America’s fasting growing statistic – he has carried guns, he has been shot, he has shot at other people, he has been arrested and he is now back in jail – all at the young age of 17 years old.
I asked him, “Why do y’all carry guns?” It was a rhetorical question since we both grew up and live in the same area. Nevertheless, I did not want to be like my contemporary know-it-alls in social development. I wanted to hear it straight from someone who lives it every day. I continued, “You know what I’m saying? You know what I’m saying.”
I let him answer and did not interrupt him. It was a rare moment in social youth development that I wanted to savor. The first rule: When young people speak, adults shut up! So he went on to tell me why he and his friends, who are known gang members of a Blood set, carry guns.
At first it’s just something you do because everybody is doing it. It’s like wearing clothes or sneakers. Then you become addicted. Carrying a gun is an addiction. You feel a new sense of power and being powerful. When you carry a gun you feel strong – invincible. It becomes a high like a drug. You start saying anything to other dudes you would normally not say. And you start doing things like bullying because you know that you got a “burner.” The girls find out that you carry a gun and you become an instance urban celebrity. They start telling other girls and the word gets around and you get instant overnight success. Dudes want really “step to you.” Girls want to have sex with you. Your boys want to help “rep with you.” It’s an amazing feeling and at the time you don’t want to do anything but carry that gun.
Now this young Black male has been arrested in the past and has several years pending on felony probation. So he has been in and out of jail over the past three years while carrying guns and being shot.
His response about the down side of carrying a gun: