Teens and Guns: Reflections from Radio Rookies

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We decided to check in with Rookie Graduates in different communities to ask them how they feel about guns. They rated how easy it is to get a gun in their neighborhood on a scale of 1 to 10 [1 being very easy, 10 being very hard]. 

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting  in Newtown, Connecticut, the debate over guns is once again at the forefront of our public debate. During a press conference last week, President Obama with Vice President Joe Biden by his side, announced his plan to implement 23 executive actions, to prevent gun violence nationally. “I will put everything I’ve got into this,” Mr. Obama said, “and so will Joe.”

In 2001, Jesus Gonzalez, an activist and Community Organizer, produced a Rookies story, “Guns in Bushwick.” His story documented how easy it is to get a gun where he lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Sadly, 13 years later, not much has changed. In a recent op-ed Jesus wrote called, Still Living in Gun City, he says, “While recent events such as the tragedy in Newtown made national news, those of us in Bushwick have lived with guns, and the threat of death, for as long as we can remember.”

Jimmy Musa - St. George, Staten Island

I feel like guns are only necessary for war or hunting. I don't think guns should be accessible to the public. Most of my peers feel the same way, we usually all agree that guns or any weapons shouldn't be in the hands of people who aren't mentally fit to handle a gun.

I live in Staten Island, NY on the North Shore. Out here it's pretty much a mixture of very old houses to project buildings; sometimes even on the same street. Getting a gun in my neighborhood I would say is anywhere from 4 to a 1. I say that because it all depends on who you know. If you know the right person it can be as easy as a "1", but depending on how you go about finding that right person may make it more difficult.

Edwin Llanos - Elmhurst, Queens
(Edwin reported this story about policing in his community)

I think gun violence is something that has to be sorted out. I feel like a lot of us are in danger. Someone can be having a bad day, and with just a little spark, shoot someone else for no reason.

I live in east Elmhurst, a very quiet neighborhood during the winter, but then the summer comes and you have to be cautious where you go at times.  When it comes to getting a gun in my community, I'd definitely have to say a 10. It's not the 80s or 90s where everyone sells them like a piece of candy. No one wants to sell them to anyone, and no one would actually admit they sell. 

Brendan Illis - Berkeley Heights, NJ

I feel that personal ownership of gun is an important part of our nation's heritage, as well as an important constitutional right. My friends, well some of them, go shooting with me on the weekend, and others think I'm a bit of a crazy gun nut. There's never any real conflict, we just have intellectual debates about gun rights. 

I live in a rich, affluent suburb within easy commuting distance of NYC. For me personally, it would be effortless (a 1) to acquire a firearm if I wanted to. But I am not typical, because I work in a warehouse where we deal largely in firearms. For the normal person, illegally, it would be a 10 (can't be done in my community), but if you travel a few miles east into Union or Newark, it would be very easy, or a few miles south into Plainfield, it would also be very easy. Legally, in my community it would be like a 4, as long as you have a clean criminal record, and the cops in town don't dislike you, they'll sign off on the purchaser ID you need in New Jersey. Then all you have to do is drive over to Effingers and pick out which one you want.

Temitayo Fagbenle - Jamaica, Queens

The 2nd Amendment was written during a different time and is not pertinent or even relatable to our current lifestyles. Guns are an unfortunate aspect of modern day life that are not necessarily necessary (haha) for the average American. I don't think I’m alone in thinking this but I have been met with opposition from my peers (ex: guns don't kill people, people kill people.) Actually, guns are a tool used by people to kill people. Therefore, guns DO kill people.

I live in an urban area, some may call it the "hood," and I would have to say that they aren't too incorrect in saying that. I wouldn't know how easy it is to get a gun since I've never felt the need to buy a gun. But judging from the amount of my peers I see with guns, if you really needed a gun in my neighborhood, I don’t think it would be too hard to find one.

Regardless of where you live- chances are you’re conscious of our national conversation on guns. Today, as Jesus put it, “gun violence is finally being treated as a mainstream issue and not just an 'inner city problem.'”

Today, we will be partnering with Youth Radio, and continuing this conversation with teens across the country, during our Live Chat on Gun Control and School Safety