Solving the problem will take a community effort.
Another young life is lost on the North Side of Minneapolis, and safety fears rise downtown. A common thread: Young people indiscriminately firing guns without regard for the innocent people who get hit along the way.
There's no single strategy that will eliminate the frightening violence. It will take renewed efforts to control the flood of guns; community and police cooperation; stronger enforcement on the streets, and bolstered youth violence prevention efforts.
And even those steps might not be enough if the adults in the lives of young criminals continue to look the other way.
On Tuesday morning, 5-year-old Nizzel George was shot and killed while sleeping on the couch at his North Side home. The gunman stood across the street and sprayed the home with bullets, presumably hoping to hit a teen or adult with whom he had a conflict.
Nizzel died six months to the day after 3-year-old Terrell Mayes Jr. was killed in another part of the North Side when he was hit by a stray bullet inside his home. His shooter remains at large.
In downtown early Monday morning, shots rang out near Hennepin and 1st Avenue N., injuring three people as crowds left bars at closing time.
Though crime overall is down in the city this year, these kinds of high-profile shootings understandably erode the community's sense of safety.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Police Chief Tim Dolan say the availability of firearms is a major reason for the gunplay. Their records show that about 80 percent of the guns they recover come from local sources.
They believe that a gun registration program similar to Canada's would force owners to be more responsible about where their guns turn up. Our state legislators should pay attention: It's simply too easy for kids to get guns today.
Along with tighter gun registration, more must be done to deter potential young criminals. Too many seem to believe that locking and loading is the answer in even the most minor conflicts.
Youth crime prevention efforts face daunting odds. Too many of our kids are growing up in dysfunctional homes without adequate parental supervision.
Getting kids engaged in education and constructive after-school and summer activities can help keep young people out of trouble, but the adults in their lives have to be part of the solution.
George's death is also a reminder that we need to do more to remove vulnerable youngsters from dangerous homes. A household that has repeated police calls for serious criminal acts is no place for a child.
Consistent exposure to that lifestyle sets up children to become victims or, if they survive long enough, to get so immersed in the criminal culture that they become the shooters as teens and young adults.
Parents shouldn't have to worry about their sleeping kids in north Minneapolis, and no one should have to fear walking the streets of downtown after dark.
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