Remember when you were younger and looking for something to do? You didn’t have to worry about where you went because everything you did was on a bicycle and done before 10 at night.
Now, as you get older, you have to worry about things like gangs and guns wherever you go. The issue of safety dominates many kids’ weekends now, because somewhere, sometime, in a cocky Saturday night fight, someone might opt to use a gun rather than hurt their pretty little face.
While fights and contests have always been part of growing up, guns are relatively new. And the local community - including teens - is now feeling the strain.
Many businesses, especially in the downtown area, have been affected by kids with guns. Businesses aimed at local teens have been hardest hit, from dance clubs that spring up only to close (citing gang violence as the reason they’re shutting their doors) to punk pool halls taken over by guntoting Gs.
A friend and I found ourselves hiding under the tables when sticks and knives gave way to guns at the Spokane Underground earlier this year. My friend, Adia, said she would never go back.
When asked if they feel safe at school, most teens will say yes. But most teens say they don’t feel the same when they’re out on the town. Many kids say they’ve occasionally felt threatened by other teens when out. A Ferris junior blames “the lack of attention kids with guns receive.” He and some friends were held up at gun point by other teens this year.
Which brings up the question, “Why do kids carry guns?” In some cases, like the Moses Lake shooting, guns come into the hands of a tormented soul, but most guns seem to be found with the known school bad-asses, or those who want to be. They carry their guns to get the “respect” they get when they’re in control and people are fearful.
To many confused kids, fear is equal to respect, and when they carry their guns, fear and submission are easy to get. Others say they carry guns for personal protection, because they fear others who do the same.
But the bottom line when tension mounts is its easy to go for a gun, especially because the kid packing it doesn’t think of the implications that come with it.
Getting guns out of kids’ hands entirely will always be impossible, but if you carry a gun, think of putting it away for a day. And maybe leave it where you put it until you realize you don’t need it to be cool, because respect comes from admiration, not fear.
xxxx 1. Armed and dangerous 2. Focusing on the real problem