PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The killing of 15-year-old Marquis Campbell is the latest tragedy in a local epidemic of youth gun violence.
Not since the early 1990s, when gangs and crack came to Pittsburgh, have we seen such gun violence on our streets. What's different today is the age of those involved. Street outreach workers say now when some kids turn 14, they get a gun.
"We're seeing a surge in youth gun violence because it's easier for them to get a hold of them," said counselor and interventionist Dr. Staci Ford.
In Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, this resulted in 29 homicides of young people between the ages of 11 and 20 last year. On Wednesday, Campbell became the second teenage homicide victim this year.
The rampant murder of teenagers has shocked the region, coming to head last September with the senseless shooting death of Central Catholic student Steven Eason at a hayride in North Versailles.
Ford said easy access to guns has led to a spike in teens getting the weapons and their willingness to use them.
"They think it's cool," Ford said. "They think it's the everyday way of living is to have a gun. And as soon as you get into an argument, you're pulling the gun out and hurting or killing someone. It's not cool."
In Pittsburgh on Thursday, Governor Tom Wolf reacted to the killing of Campbell with dismay. While Wolf has supported red flag laws to take guns away from those who pose a risk to themselves or others, he says the problem of youth gun violence defies easy answers.
"It's a tragedy whenever it happens to whomever it happens," Wolf said. "It's something I'm struggling like everyone else to figure out what we can do about it."
Ford, who engages with underprivileged families, is proposing more outreach to at-risk kids, more social programs and assistance to parents whose teenagers may be drifting toward crime and violence.
KDKA-TV's Andy Sheehan: Do they not know their kids have a gun?
Ford: Some may not, some of them may. There are all types of situations going on in the homes.
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