Juvenile Weapons Offenses Double in Decade, Report Says

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The number of teenagers arrested for weapons offenses--carrying or selling guns, explosives, and some types of knives--has more than doubled in the past decade, a report by the U.S. Department of Justice says.

More than 61,000 juveniles were arrested on weapons charges in 1993, up more than 100 percent from 1985.30,000 During the same period, the number of adults arrested increased by 33 percent, according to the study, which was released last week.

The dramatic increase in juvenile arrests on weapons charges began 20 years ago, the study found. In 1974, 16 percent of all people arrested for weapons offenses were younger than 18; in 1993, the figure was 23 percent.

The biggest offenders consistently have been 18-year-old men, who had the highest per-capita arrest rate for weapons offenses in 1993--1,007 out of every 100,000 men that age. The study also found that the arrest rate for 13- and 14-year-old boys is greater than for men ages 25 to 29.

Overall, weapons offenses made up about 2 percentsic of arrests nationwide in 1993.

Weapons Laws

Federal law prohibits youths younger than 18 from carrying handguns and authorizes criminal penalties of 10 years in prison for anyone who supplies a minor with a handgun.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia also have firearms laws that apply to juveniles, though they impose varying restrictions and a range of penalties, the report says.

Half the states forbid an adolescent to use a firearm without adult supervision. And every state except Kentucky and Michigan has enacted a zero-tolerance policy that requires schools to expel for one year students who bring a gun to school. Those policies are required by a 1994 jp: right?gc right,jp federal law.

The surge in the number of juveniles arrested for gun possession reflects a larger trend of greater youth involvement in violent crimes.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has said that combating youth violence is a priority for the Justice Department.

For More Information:

To order the report "Weapons Offenses and Offenders," contact the Bureau of Justice Statistics Clearinghouse, Box 179, Annapolis Junction, Md. 20701-1079; (800) 732-3277.

Vol. 15, Issue 12

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