Authorities must focus on how teenagers are getting hands on guns

Published 9:25 am Friday, March 3, 2017

You could just hear the hurt, and at the same time relief, in the words of Vicksburg Chief of Police Walter Armstrong Tuesday afternoon.

When asked about details of a shooting involving teenagers, Armstrong first said, “I am just glad we are not talking about a homicide today.”

The difference between a teenager lying on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound to the leg, and a teenager lying dead on the sidewalk, was nothing more than the hand of God.

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A bullet does not make the decision to go for the leg or the heart. It goes where it is fired. Tuesday, thankfully, it was just the leg of a 16-year-old, instead of the chest.

Armstrong said Tuesday’s shooting was “another case” of teenagers and guns — two things he said never go together well. The individuals charged with the shooting are teenagers themselves.

Lamarien Harper is just 16 years old and Darion Turner is just 15. What in their world, what argument could they have had, would lead them to make such a horrific decision?

In the hands of a trained teenager, on a hunt with their father, a rifle or shotgun is for sport. A handgun or assault rifle in the hands of a teenager, with no training and an obvious lack of respect for human life, is a dangerous partnership.

Gun ownership is a crucial right in our country protected by the Constitution. It is something to be cherished and taken seriously.

As it turns out, Harper, at the time of the shooting, was out on bond on an aggravated assault charge from last month, when he allegedly shot another 16-year-old during a fight that resulted from an argument between Harper and the victim’s mother over items she claimed Harper stole from her house.

During the fight with the other teen, it is reported that Harper pulled a gun and shot the victim in the abdomen.

Say what you will about gun rights, but Harper — in addition to being a teenager and reportedly involved in another shooting — should not be anywhere near a gun, much less having one in his possession.

It will be interesting as investigators work through the details of this case to learn more about the gun allegedly used in Tuesday’s shooting and how Harper and Turner even got their hands on it.

As Harper and Turner face the consequences of their choices, we are thankful their aim was not any better and that today, we are talking about an aggravated assault rather than the death of a teenager.