AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2022, 74 juveniles were suspects in gun-related crimes, including murder, assaults and robberies, according to Austin Police Department data. In 2021, that number was 48.
As the KXAN team kept hearing about teenagers involved in shootings and assaults, we asked APD for hard numbers to see the story the data told.
We asked the following question for the years of 2019 through 2022: How many suspects/victims of homicides and assaults involving firearms have been teens or juveniles?
The overview of the data is in the snapshot below. Note, the 2022 figures represent incidents between Jan. 1 and Nov. 3.
“This is not a trend that just kind of goes away without a lot of hard work,” said Nicole Gerard with the Council on At-Risk Youth, who works with kids and teens with a propensity towards violence. She said a multitude of factors can lead to “our students not feeling they’re safe, that they’re protected – that they don’t have an outlet to express these emotions.”
She said teaching kids and teens how to do so at a young age is critical.
“They learn so much as their brain is expanding at such a young age,” Gerard said. “And that is the perfect time to get in there and teach them new skills, before those unhealthy habits become a lifetime of habits.”
Gerard added that many of the students she works with have experiences with guns – whether that’s “on purpose or not on purpose. Whether it’s in communities, in the home, or tragically – at school.”
Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works, said he worked with several teens who took the court-ordered firearms safety course he teaches.
“There are already laws in place for these teenagers not to have access to firearms anyway,” he said. “They’re already committing a crime by even having access to them. We need people to be educated about the laws. We need the parents to be educated.”
Cargill said that confusion over certain gun laws has led to a spike in unlawful carry charges for people across the board in Texas.
According to a report from the Texas Department of Public Safety, in 2021, there were 6,924 convictions for unlawful carry compared to 1,049 in 2020.
Cargill said he believes that’s due to confusion over the permitless carry law that passed in 2021.
The APD report we examined included murder, robbery and various assault charges.
APD’s full breakdown of violent gun-related teen crime can be found at the link below: