Boston shootings are up 33 percent from a year ago. In the 18-to-21 age bracket, firearm-related arrests are up 38 percent. The murder toll has set a 10-year-high. The Christian Science Monitor says the spike in gun violence, particularly among teens, is a setback for a city that led the way in combating youth violence last decade. Community leaders say increasing numbers of teens without job opportunities, including a growing number of high school dropouts, are turning to illegal firearms, which activists say are too easily accessible. Fewer police officers on the streets have caused alarm. Many say, the coalitions of community activists, clergy, police, and academics that united in the 1990s to cut back on youth homicide – giving rise to the so-called “Boston Miracle” – have fragmented, leaving them ineffective today. “It took ten years for the Boston Miracle to erode,” says Pastor Bruce Wall of Global Ministries Christian Church in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, who has worked for decades to stop youth violence.
Residents have been shaken by brazen incidents. Last month, a man was shot to death in Boston’s South End in broad daylight. Two weeks ago, shots rang out as a group of fifth-graders were beginning recess. Today gun violence is often due to small gangs of high-rate offenders, driven by turf, respect, and personal vendettas, says David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and a leader in Operation Ceasefire when it launched in Boston. “This kind of thing feeds on itself,” he says. Criminologist James Fox of Northeastern University says the murder rate today is not so alarming as it was 15 years ago. “But it is an early warning of worse things that may come,” he says. “It’s time to wake up.”