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Homicides Among Young Men Soar; Drug Gangs Cited

October 14, 1994|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — The homicide rate among young men ages 15 to 19 more than doubled between 1985 and 1991, and researchers attribute the rise to drug gangs' recruiting of younger members and increased use of guns instead of fists.

"When it comes to violence, in the past what may have led to fistfights now leads to gunfire," Dr. David Satcher, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday.

The homicide rate for males 15 to 19 jumped from 13 per 100,000 in 1985 to 33 per 100,000 in 1991, a 154% increase, the CDC said.

"We've got to get guns out of the hands of these kids--it's an epidemic," said Alfred Blumstein of the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. He contributed to the CDC study.

Blumstein said drug gangs are recruiting teen-agers because the youngsters have little sense of the risks and consequences.

Guns claimed the lives of 88% of the 15- to 19-year-olds killed in 1991. From 1985 to 1991, 97% of the increase was attributed to guns.

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