Informative Essay: Adolescent Gun Violence in America

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On an unseasonably cold March morning in 1993, high school sophomore Edward Gillom exited his first period classroom and made his way through the crowded hallways of Harlem High School. After engaging in a heated argument, allegedly over a girl, with Ronricas “Pony” Gibson and Ricoh Lee, Gillom pulled out a .38-caliber gun and opened fire. Gillom’s shots fatally wounded Gibson and left Lee with a non-fatal gunshot wound to the neck (Washington Ceasefire, 2011 pg 1). The shooting in Harlem, Georgia sparked national attention as one of the first high school shootings and added to the alarmingly high rates of gun violence by adolescents during the 1990s. According to the Virginia Youth Violence Project, forty-two homicides took place in American schools in 1993 (2009 pg/par). While the rate of gun violence in American schools has decreased substantially since the early 1990s, the death rate for adolescents due to firearms in the United States is still higher than in any other industrialized nation (Vittes, Sorenson, & Gilbert, 2003 pg/par). The current generation of American teenagers has grown up surrounded by gun violence: in the news; in their video games; and in the television programs they watch. In the last twenty years, the United States has seen an upsurge of gun related crimes among adolescents; as a result, political leaders and their constituents have become outraged at how accessible the nation’s gun laws make firearms to children and the mentally unstable to obtain, especially considering the dramatic decrease of gun control, which will inevitably lead to increased gun crimes involving teenagers and young adults.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States once said, “No free man shall be debarred the ...

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... since 2002 the prevalence of adolescent gun violence in America has risen steadily since 2000 (2010, chart 1). This “outbreak” of violence among youth is most prevalent and abundant in urban communities with high rates of low-income families and gang activity like Chicago, Illinois. In their 2009 report on youth violence in Chicago Roseanna Ander, Phillip Cook, Jens Ludwig and Harold Pollack stated that, “Over the past 50 years, our society has made far less progress in understanding how to protect our citizens from violence than from all manner of disease” (2009 pg 1). (Wilkinson & Fagan, 2001 pg 111) In a 1993 nationwide survey of 2,508 elementary, middle and high school students 60% reported that they could obtain a gun if they wanted to and one-third of the students felt that they would die young due to gun violence (Wilkinson & Fagan, 2001 pg 112, table 1).

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