STOCKTON (CBS13) — Teens in Stockton not even old enough to drive are getting arrested for robberies and even murder. But where are they getting the guns?
In the state of California, you have to be at least 18 years old to buy a rifle or a shotgun and 21 to purchase a handgun.
There is a program already in place to reduce crime and more officers being added to the police force, but community leaders say more work needs to be done to help keep guns away from kids.
There isn’t a day Lecia Harrison doesn’t think about her son, Brandon, who was gunned down three months ago as he was leaving a house party in Stockton.
“The pain, some days is so great, the emotional pain that you know, it feels physical because the hurt is so deep,” she said.
While detectives continue their investigation into Harrison’s murder, police are also busy dealing with the violent crime that plagues the city almost every day. In the last month, many of the suspects accused of those crimes have been under the age of 18.
“That’s very scary, but again it starts in the home, and it starts where parents have to ensure that their children are happy, that they are growing up well-adjusted and feeling good about themselves,” said Judy Weldon, Cleveland School Remembers.
The group’s name refers to the 1989 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton where five children were killed, and 32 others were wounded.
Community leaders say guns have become fairly easy for young people to obtain. They believe teens get weapons from either stealing them or from their friends who may be selling them. Some are even getting them from home.
“When you have somebody who, actually has seen somebody, they are ambulating some behavior right, so there has to be an adult in this, in these situations whether it’s in the community or at home. It’s something that we as a community need to address,” said Samuel Nunez with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin County.
A group of local teachers who formed an organization focused on preventing gun violence says the first step in reducing violent crime starts with education, at home.
“If there is a gun in your house, you need to remember that is your responsibility as a gun owner to lock up that firearm, so your child doesn’t get it. Lock it up in a way that they don’t know where the key is, and they don’t know the combination,” said Schardt.