UTAH (ABC4) – Gun violence, especially among young people has been on the rise both nationally and in Utah alone. Just last week Lily Conroy, a junior at Springville High School was shot by her ex-boyfriend, Masao Kaanga, 19-years-old, and left in critical condition. Shortly after, Kaanga fatally shot himself.
Roughly two weeks ago on May 14 in Buffalo, N.Y., an 18-year old shot up a supermarket killing 10. Yesterday, May 24, an 18-year-old in Uvalde, Tex., killed at least 19 in a violent elementary school shooting.
Earlier this morning, Senator Derek Kitchen (D-Salt Lake City) took a stand against the climbing rates of gun violence among American adolescents. Kitchen opened a bill file to raise the age of eligibility for purchasing a firearm in Utah from 18 to 21-years-old.
“This bill is simple,” said Senator Kitchen. “If you are not able to consume alcohol, why should you be able to buy a gun? I have been a student made to participate in active shooter drills. I have met with children and parents who are scared to go to school. That we offer condolences is not enough. Where is the urgency? If we don’t act now this will happen again, and again. This bill is the least we can do to keep our communities safe.”
According to the Utah State Senate, yesterday’s shooting in Uvalde, Tex., marks the twenty-seventh school shooting in 2022. On average, 400 people will die by guns every year in Utah, making the state No. 25 in terms of the highest rates of gun deaths.
According to Giffords Law Center, data suggests that young people disproportionately commit gun homicides. In America, 18 to 20-year-old comprise just four percent of the population, but account for 17% of known homicide offenders.