MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Outrageous and scary. That's how those with the Shelby County Juvenile Court describe their dockets - being overwhelmed like no other time before with the number of teenagers - some even younger - on gun charges.
They're asking adults and parents do their part to turn the tide.
"They are getting them at a terrible rate," Shelby County Juvenile Court Investigator Jimmy Chambers said. "I kind of fear for a lot of good citizens the way it's going up."
Chambers knows the troubling trends firsthand of young people busted with a gun. The Shelby County Juvenile Court is on pace for another record high year - for the second straight year - of kids charged with either possessing a handgun or using it during a felony.
"It's like you can get a gun just like that. $50, $75, you've got one," Chambers added.
Memphis Police Tuesday reported an 85% increase in juveniles arrested on gun charges through May 2022 compared to last May, and a 72% surge of youth gun arrests this May compared to May 2021.
"We are flooded with firearms in Tennessee," Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael said.
Aside from the underground market for juveniles to get guns before they're legally allowed to own them, Judge Michael said adults also deserve blame.
"There are so many guns out there that aren't well secured - that children are getting them out of cars and using them in crimes," Judge Michael added. "Get a vault, get a cable lock, get a cable, something that's going to prevent someone from stealing it from your car. Don't just put it under the front seat of the glovebox."
Those with juvenile court said parents must also be engaged in their child's life and set firm limits.
"Most of the time when the law enforcement picks up this child, (a parent says) 'I didn't know where this child was, he was supposed to be in his room'," Chamber said. "No, you are supposed to know where your child is."
Judge Michael said those between 14 and 16 are especially vulnerable to temptation with weapons.
"They're still impulsive and if you put the gun in a hand of a child who is being recruited by gang members or he is with friends who want to do a robbery, it's dangerous - pure and simple," Judge Michael said.
In addition to the spike in Shelby County juveniles arrested on gun charges, MPD reported Tuesday a major increase in guns stolen or seized overall compared to last year.
RELATED: 'Make their loss of life matter' | Matthew McConaughey makes passionate plea for gun law changes
RELATED: Yes, there were more gun deaths among American children than police and military in the line of duty, since 2000
RELATED: There’s no federal limit for the amount of guns and ammo you can buy, but there is for Sudafed