More teens going armed with handguns

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Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott Davenport fears for the safety of Rutherford County children.

Five boys, ages 14 to 16, carried loaded handguns when arrested last weekend ranging from violent crimes to speeding.

• Two 16-year-old boys were charged with kidnapping a man and robbing him near downtown Murfreesboro.

• A 14-year-old and a 16-year-old boy were charged with unlawful possession of a handgun after a loaded .357 Magnum was found near them. Witnesses identified their car as the one where an occupant fired outside a party with 200 people nearby.

• A 15-year-old driver accused of speeding and evading arrest was apprehended with a .45-caliber handgun in his pocket. A Tec 9 pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition were found in his car along with crack cocaine and marijuana. He is believed to be a gang member.

Davenport ordered all five boys to remain in detention for their safety and the safety of the community.

The judge is hearing more cases of children carrying loaded firearms. Previously, children might have a loaded gun in a car but not on their person. It’s more serious when it’s loaded in their pocket.

 “I fear for the safety of our children,” Davenport said. “I’m afraid more children will be shot from their own weapons.”

And she fears for the safety of law enforcement officers who have no choice but to draw their service firearms when facing a child with a firearm.

“The concern for my community is my priority,” Davenport said. “Children having an easy access to firearms is extremely disturbing.”

Who carries guns?

When asked about the 15-year-old driver with a handgun, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dan Goodwin asked if illegal drugs were involved. Deputy Barry Poole reported he found crack cocaine and marijuana in the boy’s car.

Goodwin, who was assigned to the narcotics division for seven years, said in his experience, narcotics dealers often swap drugs for weapons or sex in lieu of cash.

“They arm themselves so they can protect themselves from thieves and people vying with them for narcotics’ territory,” Goodwin said.

Some of the firearms come from drug addicts stealing handguns to swap for drugs.

Murfreesboro Police Detective Chris Ashley, who works in the police precinct on Vaughn Street, said the majority of the firearms are stolen through home burglaries and thefts.

“If a juvenile has the money, they can obtain guns on the street,” Ashley said. “It’s (firearms) a hot ticket item sold from burglaries and thefts. That’s why it’s so important for people who own firearms to keep them locked and secured.” 

Ashley always takes both his service firearm and personal weapons out of his vehicle to keep the weapons from being stolen.

Police spokesman Kyle Evans and Ashley have noticed an increase in children using guns to commit crimes.

Like Goodwin, Ashley said drug dealers as a rule arm themselves with firearms.

“Drug dealing is a violent business,” Ashley said. “It’s not unusual to find firearms with drugs.”

Also, Ashley believes television and movies and games depicting firearms impacts juveniles and crime on the streets.

Evans said juveniles who belong to a gang “due to the nature of a gang will arm themselves with a weapon. Most of the time when you see gang activity, you see two common things, drugs and weapons.

Police officers consider children with weapons as a serious crime.

“We have a zero tolerance policy,” Evans said. “If a juvenile has a handgun, they go to detention and face the consequences of the juvenile justice system.”

La Vergne Police Chief Ted Boyd believes juveniles get weapons off the street or in burglaries.

“I don’t think people in the community want guns in teens’ hands,” Boyd said.

Community response

Evans and Boyd both recommended parents educate their children about the danger of weapons, keep firearms locked at home and get involved with their activities.

“I want to emphasize parents do all they can do and kids still make a choice,” Boyd said.

Ashley said parents should be aware of their children’s friends and inform their children not to tell their friends about firearms in the home.

To prevent gun use among children, Evans said DARE officers start in kindergarten teaching children not to touch guns and tell an adult. City Channel 3 broadcasts public service announcements about guns. 

“If a child knows somebody has a gun, tell a responsible adult,” Evans said. “The worst thing you can do is not tell anybody. You’re not ratting out anyone or being a tattletale. You may possibly save someone’s life.”

Information about guns may be called in to Crime Stoppers at 893-STOP between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Parents should discuss firearms with their children and talk about ways to deal with stress and aggression rather than resorting to violence.

“After Columbine, we have to take this very seriously,” Evans said.

Lisa Marchesoni may be reached at 869-0814 or at

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Members Opinions:
March 22, 2009 at 11:53am
Does anyone else find it hillarious (and a little scary) that there's an ad for firearms training on the same page as a story about teens and guns?

Would think there would be a way to ensure that this ad does not show up on this page.

March 22, 2009 at 11:54am
..especially when the tag line reads "gunfights don't give second chances."

March 22, 2009 at 1:03pm
I'm disturbed.......
March 22, 2009 at 5:23pm
Firearms safety is a good thing! I think a bigger problem is that for those of us who legally carry, we are REQUIRED to leave our guns in the car when we go in a restaurant to eat or a movie or anywhere else. My gun is much more secure on my person than it is in my car.
March 22, 2009 at 6:10pm
No offense, attagirl, but are the rest of safer because you have a gun you want to carry on your person?
March 22, 2009 at 7:18pm
Attagirl sounds like a responsible gun owner who has received proper training. I'm glad she is legally carrying and exercising her 2nd amendment rights. More law abiding citizens need to become licensed carry permit holders then we wouldn't have the crime we are currently experiencing if the criminal element knew that someone might be shooting back. More and more citizens are taking the proper training and licensing to protect their families and loved ones.
March 22, 2009 at 7:57pm
Blah, blah, blah, NRA......blah blah blah blah....NRA GOOD (grunt)... Blah blah blah.....pry it from my cold dead hands...blah blah blah.

None of us are safer when everbody is armed...I've seen too many short redneck tempers.

By the way, the second amendment was not intended to allow everyone to walk around with a gun on their was intended to allow us, as a nation to form local militias and protect ourselves (as a group) from agressors.
March 22, 2009 at 8:45pm
It's been interpreted many different ways, but the supreme court disagrees with your position. Nobody is safer when EVERYONE is armed. True. We aren't safer when criminals who obtain guns by illegal means to do illegal things. We aren't safer when mentally ill people possess guns. Or even rednecks with short tempers. As citizens of this country, we are entitled the pursuit of happiness. That doesn't include having someone rob you at gunpoint or take your life for whatever trivial reason. There are regulations in place to insure that law abiding citizens may purchase and conceal handguns upon their person to defend themselves and others from criminals who would otherwise commit violent crimes. Is the system perfect? No. Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Guns in and of themselves are not evil. I wonder if your outlook on this issue would be the same if you became the victim of a violent crime and had no way to defend yourself. Do you carry a police officer on your belt? No, that's silly. He'd be too heavy. I carry a handgun, legally I might add, not because I'm expecting trouble. If I were expecting trouble I'd carry my shotgun. I don't flaunt it. If you looked at me you wouldn't even know it was there. But if I am ever unfortunate enough to be in a situation where my life or someone else's life is in danger of serious bodily harm or death, only then will I use my handgun. I will not be a victim. If you choose to be a victim, that's your prerogative.
March 22, 2009 at 9:33pm
You may not be safer because I carry, justus, but I certainly am.
March 22, 2009 at 9:46pm
Letter to Murfreesboro Post:

Wanted to Thank you for changing the Advertisement on the left hand side. Before the gun ad was so contradicting it was ridiculous. I'm still disturbed though.......
March 22, 2009 at 10:28pm
The ad in question was a computer-generated Google ad that automatically connects to certain topics. We didn't place the ad nor did we remove it.

Ads and news are not connected except sometimes by topic, as in this case.

Sorry you are disturbed.

Mike PIrtle, The Post
March 22, 2009 at 10:44pm
attagirl I Agree with you 100%.... If you keep it on you where ever you go,Less chances of it getting stolen. For the people who are'nt legal to carry arms they might thank us if we were there to save there lifes. I Think that somthing needs to be done to keep children & criminals from getting guns so easy.Like our Gun shows & web Sites like golsn,Because theres just too many people that dont care who the sell to as long as they get there money. As far as Second Amendment I truly Beleive in it,But as far as a gun owner like myself i think you should have to buy from a dealer & it to be recorded. I could care less If they shut down all the web sites,Gun shows,& ect. If you have nothing to hide why do you need a un-registerd gun?
March 23, 2009 at 3:56am
If they're carrying guns because of drugs, make drugs legal then there won't be a black market for the stuff...

example: The Prohibition of Alcohol...Al Capone...? Starting to make sense here?
March 23, 2009 at 6:43am
justus, you're safe around attagirl, unless you intend to harm her or her family.
March 23, 2009 at 5:20pm
Forget the guns and bring on the $4.50 pitchers of draft beer. Drink and be happy.
March 23, 2009 at 5:24pm
Anyone ever played Cowboys and Indians?
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