MEMPHIS, Tenn. — U.S. Attorney General, William Barr was in Memphis today to announce a new initiative to reduce the number of gun crimes in the area.
This, just one day after a 12-year-old held up a woman at gunpoint at a local Kroger.
FOX13 was there, to press officials how the new initiative will help curb the juvenile violent crime issue the city faces.
Juvenile violent crime numbers are on the rise at a disturbing rate.
That's what District Attorney General Amy Weirich told us last week.
We specifically wanted to hear from officials regarding how this latest crime initiative will prevent kids from getting guns and using them in crimes.
"I'm just haunted by the sight of a 12-year-old holding a gun, trying to commit a carjacking,” said Mike Rallings, Memphis Police Director.
“We should really thank those citizens because what if that 12-year-old would have pulled the trigger. We could have had a tragedy on a number of sides."
January to September of this year, there were 671 major violent charges against juveniles in Memphis and Shelby County.
That's according to data provided by the Juvenile Court and is a more than 58 percent increase over last year.
"I've long believed the primary duty of government is protecting the safety of our citizens,” said Attorney General William Barr
Unfortunately, right now Memphians need protection from their own children.
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U.S. AG Barr announced Project Guardian, a new nationwide initiative designed to reduce gun crimes.
FOX13 took the opportunity to ask the AG how Project Guardian will impact the violent juveniles causing chaos on our city streets.
"There's more flexibility under the federal system to deal with predatory juveniles than there is under a lot of the state systems, so the ability of the federal government to bring its tools there when there's a dangerous juvenile offender; we have much more flexibility and are able to handle those cases,” he said.
He admitted to us that long term, the DOJ would have to come up with a better system for "dealing with youthful offenders."
We asked MPD Director Rallings the same question.
"Youth in Memphis are not making guns,” Rallings said. “They're getting access to guns. A lot of them are coming from cars. Some of them are illegal guns that are being sold, traded, so I certainly hope so."
Last week, when we spoke exclusively with DA Weirich about the youth crime problem, she told us a big issue in the fight back was resources and funding.
Wednesday morning, as she stood behind AG Barr, we asked him if the feds will commit to dedicating more on their end.
"At the federal level, we are always willing to examine what our current laws are, current approaches are, and adapt accordingly,” he said.
We also spoke with the Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the ATF.
He told us it's no secret there's a gang epidemic in Memphis and a number of the crimes involving juveniles are gang related.
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