Each of us hold a great amount of responsibility to make even the smallest decisions our own. With that power comes the potential to devastate many lives.

In recent news, a school shooting in Kentucky left two students killed and 18 injured. A 15-year-old held the gun. A 15-year-old pulled the trigger. A 15-year-old was charged with two counts of murder and 12 counts of first degree assault. He will be charged as an adult for his actions.

This has not only affected the now grieving families of the injured and the dead; this will also affect this young man for the rest of his natural born life.

In 41 of the 50 states, a 17-year-old who commits a crime will be put through the juvenile justice system. However, in nine of them, a 17-year-old would be tried as an adult, and put through adult jail and/or prison system.

Missouri is one of those 41 states, but there are statutes in place that delineate from the rules if someone under the age of 17 commits a serious crime. The defined offenses are first and second degree murder, first degree assault, first degree robbery, distribution of drugs, forcible rape and forcible sodomy.

These crimes are atrocious acts of what a human being is capable of doing, and should be dealt with in a swift and appropriate manner. In the case of 17-year-olds, this should be no different. A crime is a crime, regardless of how old you are. Age is just a number. Law is made for a specific reason.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, crime rates for juveniles between 2006 and 2012 dropped: 46% for American Indian youth; 37% for Asian youth; 38% for white youth, and 34% for black youth.

This decrease in number shouldn’t beget sighs of relief. It should symbolize a step in the right direction. Either law enforcement is finally cracking down, or people are finally getting straight, regardless - good things are coming from our officers in blue.

According to Pew Research Center surveys, 57% of registered voters said crime in the U.S. has gotten worse since 2008, even though it has declined by double percentages during that span.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Americans have their head in the right place, but ought to push a little harder for the shining torch of the American Dream to shine on through. The more we proactively think and communicate to each other about the ways crime could be handled better, the faster those thoughts will come to fruition.

In total, according to gunviolencearchive.org, there were 346 mass shootings in 2017 alone. This number shakes me to my core. What is even more gut-wrenching is the 186 school shootings that have taken place since the devastating Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. These statistics don’t bode well for anyone, but they do offer us some advice.

When a society is at war with itself, it needs to construct safety measures in order to preserve the integrity it’s forefathers spent so much time constructing and perfecting. If this means furthering the reach of the police and courts to try 17-year-olds as adults for the betterment of society, then so be it.

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