Guns, gangs & murder
Violence in the media, in our neighborhoods and even in our schools can make you feel frightened, unsafe and insecure. Gangs, weapons and violence are tough issues to deal with.
Are you aware of gangs on your campus? Have you noticed groups of individuals wearing similar colors and flashing hand signs? Have you ever seen someone bring a gun or a weapon to school?
Guns, gangs and their frequent companion, murder, are mistakes you cannot afford to make. The consequences associated with these big three are so severe that you are not likely to be able to recover. Whether you die of gang or gun violence or live to face the music, it is a life-ruining move.
Know the law: guns
If a person carries a gun while committing any crime, he or she can expect to face harsh penalties. State prosecutors or the United States Attorney's Office, depending on the nature of the crime and the severity of the violence, may prosecute firearms offenses.
Report it immediately
if you ever see someone bringing a gun onto your school campus. The worst cases of school violence all have one thing in common: guns.
If you see or find a gun, DO NOT HANDLE IT. Everybody stay away from it. Report what you have seen immediately. If you see a person with a gun, walk the other way, quietly. Report what you have seen. If you don't feel safe reporting it, call 9-1-1 anonymously. More . . .
Illegally carrying a handgun is a Class A misdemeanor, unless it is carried on any premises where alcohol is being sold, in which case it is a third-degree felony.
A person who allows a child to gain access to a loaded firearm may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if the child discharges the firearm and causes death or serious bodily injury to himself or another person.
Federal gun laws are very strict. A person can be punished by up to 10 years in prison if convicted of illegally possessing or receiving a gun or ammunition. A person may also receive a minimum sentence of 15 years without parole if the person has three or more prior convictions for a violent felony and/or a drug trafficking felony.
Certain individuals, such as felons or drug users, are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. Using, carrying or possessing a firearm in connection with a federal drug felony or crime of violence may result in punishment ranging from at least five years up to life in federal prison without parole.
Possessing or discharging a firearm in a school zone can result in a federal prison sentence of up to five years. Providing a handgun to anyone under 18 is punishable by up to one year in prison, unless the person knows that the youth intends to commit a violent crime with the handgun, in which case it can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
It is a third-degree felony to possess a firearm on school property, on any grounds where a school-sponsored event is being held, on a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or at a variety of government locations.
It is illegal under federal law for most citizens to possess certain firearms such as machine guns, assault weapons, silencers, sawed-off shotguns or rifles, or certain other destructive devices. Possessing or receiving a firearm with an obliterated or altered serial number is also illegal and is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Know the law: gangs
A gang is a loosely organized group of at least three people. The group usually has a name, may have a leader or leaders and may have developed identifying signs such as colors, symbols or tattoos. This group continuously and regularly commits crimes in support of the gang. These crimes may range from Class C misdemeanors to serious felonies.
It is illegal to be a member of a gang on a public school campus. It is illegal to coerce, induce or solicit a child to actively participate in the activities of a criminal street gang through the use of threats or violence. It is a state jail felony to threaten a child into joining a gang and a third-degree felony if bodily injury is caused.
If you have been threatened or coerced into joining a gang, you are a victim of a crime. It is natural to feel intimidated or be fearful of retaliation when this occurs, but what happened to you was not your fault and it was a crime. Report this criminal activity immediately to your school resource officer or the local authorities.
The National Gang Center reports that gang members who carry guns commit about ten times more violent crime than other groups.
State law provides for punishment enhancements for offenses committed with a gang. Simply put, gang membership gets you into more trouble and gets you a harsher sentence.
Homicide is a broad term for offenses including murder, capital murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Murder is a first-degree felony. A person commits murder by intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another person. Murder is also committed when:
- A person intends to cause serious bodily injury, commits an act clearly dangerous to human life, and the act results in the death of the victim.
- A person commits or attempts to commit a felony that is clearly dangerous to human life, and the act results in the death of another person.
- Criminal negligence that results in the death of another person is called criminally negligent homicide and is a state jail felony.
Murder is the kind of crime for which a juvenile might be certified to stand trial as an adult, if the crime is horrific enough.
Juvenile offenders who commit capital murder may face up to 40 years in prison or a life sentence if certified to be tried as an adult.
Capital murder may result in the death penalty if the accused was an adult at the time the offense was committed. Capital murder can include murder of a peace officer or fire fighter, as well as murder that happens in the course of committing or attempting to commit certain felonies.