Number of juveniles arrested with firearms in Dayton increases every year

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF) — The number of juveniles arrested with firearms has increased every year since 2020. As of the end of last month, 46 juveniles had been arrested for firearm possession. That’s more than in all of 2021.

Recent gun violence in Dayton raises questions about how many guns are actually illegally on the streets.

One way to get a sense of the scale of the problem is to look at the number of people arrested for possessing a gun when they shouldn’t have had one, which includes juveniles and violent criminals.

Dayton Police Department Maj. Brian Johns, who is also the supervisor of the investigations division, said the number of people arrested with guns when they shouldn’t have them is a big problem for the city and frustrating for police.

“Overall, gun crime is a major problem in Dayton, Ohio,” Johns said. “This year alone, and this is a staggering number, we’ve already had seven juveniles murdered this year in the city of Dayton. Seven. I don’t recall it being anywhere near that number in my time here.”

John says it’s not difficult for young people to get hold of guns, and there have been a lot of gun thefts.

“Young people are buying them on the street, so we have a big problem with people leaving guns in their motor vehicles and often those motor vehicles are not even locked,” Johns said.

Here’s what the numbers look like since 2019.

Minors arrested with firearms:

  • 2019 – 30
  • 2020 – 24
  • 2021 – 42
  • 2022 – 65
  • 2023 – 94
  • 2024 – 46*

Adults arrested for carrying a gun under disability (these are people who have prior convictions for violent crimes and are not allowed to own firearms):

  • 2019 – 208
  • 2020 – 240
  • 2021 – 277
  • 2022 – 220
  • 2023 – 253
  • 2024 – 112*

* Until June 2024

Social media plays a significant role in attracting young people to gun culture. Many young people post themselves with firearms and thus attract attention.

“Almost every day we see pictures on social media of young people with loaded guns in their belts. Sometimes rifles. Sometimes multiple rifles,” Johns said.

“There are 13-, 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds with guns on Facebook,” said Dayton Mayor Jeffrey J. Mims, Jr.

It’s not just about getting guns off the streets, it’s about changing the mindsets of young people.

Mims and other leaders are working to introduce anti-violence intervention programs in the city.

He said they want to work with Dayton Public Schools to start conversations about guns and conflict management.

“Just talking about why we use guns. Just talking about the safety measures associated with guns. If you see one where it shouldn’t be, you know, tell an adult,” Mims said. “Young people have different tools to use to help them understand how to deal with violence, how to deal with disagreement.”

Young people often learn from adults, which is why Johns believes adults must be held accountable.

For criminals caught with guns, Johns said, the system makes it difficult for law enforcement.

“We have cases where people with extensive criminal histories who are not allowed to own a firearm are being arrested with a firearm and very easily released,” Johns said. “Those kinds of things, I think it’s a disservice to our victims, it’s a disservice to the citizens of Dayton and it makes the police’s job very, very difficult.”

As for the city implementing violence intervention programs, Mims said those programs are already underway and he wants to implement them as quickly as possible.