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(ERDA, Utah) -- U.S. Army veteran Joseph Dale Jaramillo proved that you're never too old to fulfill a dream.

On his 90th birthday, Jaramillo jumped from a plane at 14,000 feet on Saturday in Erda, Utah.

Jaramillo said that when he had served as an Army private first class in the Korean War, he wanted to enlist in the Army's 101st Airborne and jump from planes.

He said he didn't make the cut due to his weight.

"I signed up for the 101st Airborne. I only weighed 128 pounds. I had to weigh 140 pounds," said Jaramillo.

Jaramillo would go on to serve for five years with the 1st Cavalry Division. He earned a Purple Heart after he was hit in the arm with shrapnel while helping save five fellow servicemen from a foxhole, his family said.

Even after the war had ended, he said he always envied the 101st Airborne and decided that it was time to do something about it.

"I'm so excited to jump," Jaramillo said from the plane. "I'm going to holler all the way."

Equipped with a professional skydiver and his family's support, Jaramillo finally took the leap.

He told "World News Tonight" on Tuesday that he had waited 70 years for that moment and would happily do it all over again.

"I've been thinking about diving out of a plane all these years ... and finally I got it over with!" said Jaramillo. "It was so peaceful."

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(DETROIT) -- Two young men have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 2-year-old Brison Christian on a Detroit interstate, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Darius Evonte Lanier, 19, and Eugene Meredith Hubbard, 21, allegedly mistook the family for someone else based on the make and color of the truck, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said.

"I feel like none of us, none of my family, was supposed to make it out of that trip," Brison's father, Brian Christian, said at a news conference Tuesday. "I keep replaying the incident in the back of my mind."

"I just kept saying, 'Man, what did I do for someone to want to kill me and my family?'" he said.

"The Christian family were completely innocent victims," Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement Tuesday.

Brison, his parents and his 9-year-old brother BJ were in their truck on Interstate 75 after BJ's basketball practice Thursday night when they heard gunfire, according to prosecutors.

The father pulled over and saw Brison shot in the head and BJ shot in the arm, prosecutors said.

Brison, the nephew of a Detroit police officer, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

BJ was hospitalized in serious condition and later released, police said.

The suspects allegedly fled the scene and were arrested on Saturday, prosecutors said.

Detroit Interim Police Chief James White on Tuesday announced a new initiative called Operation Brison, in which Detroit police will work with neighboring agencies to patrol the freeways for road rage and other acts of violence.

"This is unacceptable," White said at the news conference. "We will never forget little Brison. We will never forget what happened to him."

The interim chief vowed to use all technology available to "constitutionally get violent offenders off the street."

"If you do a drive-by," White said, "we have over 100 crime analysts ... we're going to pull video from every source we can ... we're going to identify who's doing this violence."

Besides first-degree murder, Lanier and Hubbard are also charged with three counts of assault with intent to murder, one count of discharge from a vehicle causing death, one count of discharge from a vehicle causing injury, two counts of discharge from a vehicle and eight counts of felony firearm, prosecutors said.

They were arraigned Tuesday afternoon and are due back in court July 6, prosecutors said.

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(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) -- Students at Indiana University filed a federal lawsuit Monday, suing the school over its COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

The lawsuit alleges that the university violates students' rights as well as Indiana's vaccine passport law. The recently passed law prohibits state and local governments from creating or requiring vaccine passports. In the lawsuit, the students claim that they are being coerced into vaccination and that if they do not comply, they face "the threat of virtual expulsion from school."

The lawsuit argues that with the United States' outbreak receding, universal vaccination at the school isn't necessary. "As the numbers continue to decline, such draconian measures as requiring all students to be vaccinated is not reasonable," it reads.

Earlier this month, school administrators announced that students would have to verify their vaccination status with the school unless they applied for a medical or religious exemption. Those without exemptions can have their class schedules canceled, their student IDs deactivated and won't be allowed to participate in on-campus activities, according to the lawsuit.

"The requirement for all Indiana University students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated before the return to school in August remains in place," Chuck Carney, university spokesperson, told ABC News in a statement in response to the lawsuit. "As part of IU’s response to the ongoing pandemic, the vaccine mandate is helping to support a return to safe and more normal operations this fall," he added.

"The university is confident it will prevail in this case," Carney said.

The lawsuit comes after a group of Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Indiana University President Michael McRobbie last month, asking him "to reconsider and rescind" the mandate. Days later, the state attorney general issued a non-binding opinion stating that public universities are “arms of the state” and therefore they must abide by the law banning vaccine passports.

"Following release of the Indiana attorney general’s opinion, our process was revised, with uploading proof of vaccination no longer required," Carney said. "The attorney general’s opinion affirmed our right to require the vaccine."

Indiana lags slightly behind the national average in vaccinations. As of Monday, 44% of residents had received at least one dose, and 40% were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, 53% of Americans have gotten at least one shot, and 45% are fully vaccinated.

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Arvada Police Department

(DENVER) -- Three people are dead, including a veteran police officer, following a shooting in a Denver suburb on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

The incident unfolded at around 1:15 p.m. local time in Olde Town Arvada, the downtown district of Arvada, Colorado, about 10 miles northwest of the state's capital. The Arvada Police Department said one of its officers, identified as Gordon Beesley, was responding to a 911 call about "suspicious" activity when he was shot and killed. Then more 911 calls came in at around 1:30 p.m. about shots fired and a fallen officer, according to police.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that the officer was hit by gunfire while confronting a suspect, but it was unclear what caused the confrontation.

Another individual, believed to be a good Samaritan, was also shot and taken to a local hospital, where they later died, police said. Meanwhile, the suspected gunman was shot and killed at the scene, according to police. Their identities have not been released.

Authorities are not searching for anyone else in connection with the deadly shooting and there is no threat to the public, police said. A shelter-in-place order that was in effect for the immediate area where the incident happened has been lifted.

Beesley, the slain officer, was a 19-year veteran with the Arvada Police Department and was also a resource officer at the city's Oberon Middle School. He was working patrol while school was out for the summer, according to police.

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(POTTSTOWN, Pa.) -- A family of three -- including a mother, father and their teenage son -- have all tragically died in an early morning house fire that enveloped their home.

The incident occurred at approximately 2 a.m. early on Monday, June 21, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania -- about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia -- when a fire swept through the family’s home and a neighbor who noticed the blaze alerted a police officer who happened to be in the area at the time, according to ABC News’ Philadelphia station WPVI-TV.

"From our window of our house I could see some flames coming out of there, but there was a lot of smoke. There was a lot of smoke," neighbor Christopher Azukas told WPVI in an interview following the incident.

Azukas told WPVI that it was his daughter who initially noticed the fire and alerted the authorities.

"She just ran out and flagged him down and said that there was a fire going on in that house over there," he said.

Fire crews soon arrived on scene and attempted to rescue the family inside the burning home but were unsuccessful. Authorities, however, were able to save the people living in the home attached to the one where the fire started.

The Montgomery County Coroner's Office have so far only identified the father -- 48-year-old Joseph Norton -- and confirmed that he was pronounced dead from smoke and soot inhalation at Pottstown Hospital. The mother’s name along with her 14-year-old son’s name has not yet been released, according to WPVI.

Azukas said the family mostly kept to themselves but that he would often see them spending time together in their yard.

"[The teenager] was heavily into baseball so I'd see him out back sometimes in the backyard, sometimes practicing baseball and stuff like that,” Azukas told WPVI. “I'd see him and his father go off to the games on weekends and everything, but that was really about it.”

An investigation into how the fire began is underway and even though it is currently unclear what could have started the fire, officials told WPVI that they have an idea of how the blaze began but are not ready to release it at this time.

Authorities, however, did confirm to WPVI that it does not appear the home the family were living in had any working smoke detectors which may have been a contributing factor to the spread of the fire.

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(NEW YORK) -- A backpacker who was hiking through the Grand Canyon over the weekend has died from what park rangers believe to be heat-related causes as the high temperature where she was walking hit 115°F.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, June 20, when backpacker, 53-year-old Michelle Meder of Hudson, Ohio, was on a multi-day backpacking trip from Hermit to Bright Angel Trail and the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report of a backpacker experiencing heat illness on the Tonto Trail near Monument Creek, according to a statement from the National Park Service (NPS).

“Hiking down the Hermit Trail on June 19, [Meder] became disoriented and later unconscious,” the NPS said in a statement regarding the incident. “On June 20, responding rangers determined Meder to be deceased; the cause of death is believed to be heat-related. On June 20 the high temperature at Phantom Ranch was approximately 115°F (46°C).”

The National Park Service warned in the statement that hiking in extreme heat can lead to “serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, and death,” and that hikers need to be aware that, should they run into trouble while hiking, efforts to help them could be delayed during the summer months due to “limited staff, the number of rescue calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flying capability during periods of extreme heat or inclement weather.”

An investigation into Meder’s death is now being conducted by the NPS in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner to determine what exactly happened.

“Park Rangers at Grand Canyon National Park are strongly urging visitors to Grand Canyon, especially inner canyon hikers and backpackers to be prepared for excessively hot days in the coming weeks,” said the NPS. “In the summer, temperatures on exposed parts of the trail can reach over 120°F (49 °C) in the shade. Park rangers do not advise hiking in the inner canyon between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Most of the people who need emergency medical help in the canyon due to heat illness are hiking between these hours.”

Grand Canyon trails do not close due to inclement or hot weather and the NPS advised that there are ways to safely traverse the trails as long as you are prepared, well-acclimated to the climate and elevation, have the appropriate gear and have prior experience hiking in steep, desert terrain.

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(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A California man accused of stealing a rare lemur from the San Francisco Zoo could spend up to one year behind bars for violating the Endangered Species Act, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Cory John McGilloway, 31, of Los Angeles, allegedly kidnapped a 21-year-old male ring-tailed lemur named Maki from the San Francisco Zoo's Lipman Family Lemur Forest on Oct. 13, 2020, according to prosecutors. Maki was reported missing the next morning and investigators discovered evidence of a forced entry to his enclosure, triggering a frantic search for the animal, which zoo officials described as "highly endangered" and requiring "special care." The zoo, which is home to just four ring-tailed lemurs, also announced a $2,100 reward for information leading to Maki's safe return.

Two days after the alleged theft, a woman recorded video of a man -- whom prosecutors believe is McGilloway -- walking a lemur -- thought to be Maki -- on a leash on Treasure Island, about two miles off San Francisco's mainland shore. Later that day, a 5-year-old boy spotted Maki unattended at a playground in Daly City, about 10 miles southwest of San Francisco. The lemur, who was hungry, dehydrated and agitated, was rescued and returned to the San Francisco Zoo, prosecutors said.

That night, police arrested McGilloway in San Rafael, about 18 miles northwest of San Francisco. Police were responding to a report of shoplifting when they allegedly saw McGilloway driving a stolen dump truck, according to prosecutors.

McGilloway made an appearance at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California via video link from a Los Angeles jail on Monday. He was arraigned on one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act, a federal offense. If convicted, he could have to pay as much as $50,000 in fines in addition to facing up to a year in prison.

ABC News has reached out to McGilloway's public defender for comment.

Native to Madagascar, the world's second-largest island nation, ring-tailed lemurs are listed as "endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Almost a third of all lemur species in Madagascar, located off Africa's southeast coast, are considered "critically endangered" -- just one step away from extinction -- with 103 of the 107 surviving species threatened with extinction, mainly due to deforestation and hunting, according to the IUCN.

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(ARVADA, Colo.) -- Three people are dead, including a police officer and the alleged suspect, following a shooting in Arvada, Colorado, on Monday afternoon, according to the Arvada Police Department.

Police said a 911 call about suspicious activity was placed around 1:15 p.m. local time Monday. By 1:30 p.m., police received 911 calls about gunfire and an officer hit, police said at a press conference Monday night.

An officer was struck by gunfire when he confronted the alleged suspect just before 2 p.m., law enforcement sources tell ABC News. It's unclear what caused the confrontation at this time, the sources said.

Late Monday night, authorities identified Officer Gordon Beesley as the deceased police officer. Beesley was a 19-year veteran with the department and was a school resource officer at a local middle school. During the summer, he worked patrol while school was out.

Another person, who police described as a "Samaritan," was shot and killed.

There are no other reports of injuries, and no names have been released.

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Facebook/Ryan Cox Puraleski

(NAPERVILLE, Ill.) -- An EF-3 tornado tore through the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois, Sunday night, damaging over 130 homes and leaving 22 houses uninhabitable, fire officials said.

"It was like a bomb went off with all the debris in the streets," Ryan Puraleski told ABC News.

Eight people were hospitalized following the late-night twister. One person was critically injured but has since been upgraded to fair condition, Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said at a news conference Monday.

Some people had to be pulled from their rubble-filled homes, he said.

Everyone is expected to survive, Puknaitis said.

The tornado also downed power lines, leaving about 450 customers without power.

Severe weather, including 11 tornadoes, also struck Alabama, as Tropical Storm Claudette slammed the South.

An EF-2 tornado struck East Brewton, Alabama, injuring 20 people, according to the National Weather Service. East Brewton police said two of the injured were life-flighted to hospitals.

At least three storm-related deaths were reported in Alabama this weekend.

In Tuscaloosa, a 24-year-old man and his 3-year-old son were killed when a tree fell on top of their house, according to Capt. Marty Sellers of the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

In Fort Payne, a 22-year-old woman drowned in floodwaters Saturday night, DeKalb County coroner Tom Wilson told ABC News.

ABC News' Alice Chambers, Max Golembo and Rachel Katz contributed to this report.

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(NEW YORK) — A coalition of airline lobbying groups and unions are calling for the Justice Department to prosecute unruly passengers "to the fullest extent of the law" following a sharp increase in incidents on flights.

"The federal government should send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with federal law and upholding aviation safety are of paramount importance," the letter said.

The group cited a law that prohibits assault or intimidation of flight crew members, which can result in a fine or imprisonment.

"Making these prosecutions public will put a spotlight on the serious consequences when breaking the law and will act as an effective deterrent against future onboard disruptions," the coalition wrote.

Steve Dickson, the FAA administrator, signed an order earlier this year directing his agency to take a "zero-tolerance" approach to incidents with unruly passengers.

"Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way," Dickson said at the time.

There have been 3,000 unruly passenger incidents so far this year -- 2,300 of which were over mask wearing, according to the FAA.

The agency has identified 394 cases this year where passengers have potentially broken the law by "interfering with the duties of a crew member." That's 2 1/2 times the number of incidents investigated in 2019.

When asked how many people had actually paid the proposed fines this year for violating federal law, Dickson said they were "still in the very early stages."

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(DETROIT, Mich.) — Three people, including an 11-year-old boy and his father, were sitting in a car when they were shot and injured in a violent triple shooting caught on video, Detroit police said.

The boy, his father and the third passenger, a 30-year-old man, were all hospitalized in stable condition after the Sunday morning shooting, police said.

The victims were parked and sitting in a Chevy Suburban when, at about 8 a.m., a black Chrysler 300 pulled up next to them and stopped, police said.

A gunman then got out of the passenger side of the Chrysler and immediately sprayed bullets at the victims' car, before jumping back into the Chrysler and fleeing.

Police are looking for the Chrysler driver as well as the gunman.

Authorities ask anyone with information to call the 6th precinct at 313-596-5640 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-Speak Up.

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(DETROIT) -- Multiple arrests have been made after 2-year-old Brison Christian, the nephew of a Detroit police officer, was gunned down on an interstate, authorities said.

Brison and his family were traveling on Interstate 75 in Detroit when shots were fired at 9:45 p.m. Thursday, Michigan State Police said.

Brison's father, Brian Christian, said he saw a man holding a gun in a passing car, according to ABC Detroit affiliate WXYZ.

Brison's parents pulled over and noticed both of their children were shot, police said.

Brison, who loved SpongeBob and Oreos, was "bleeding from his head with his head down," Christian told WXYZ.

Brison was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

His 9-year-old brother was hospitalized in serious condition and later released, police said.

“The hardest thing ever is for my son to be literally dying in my arms and me being a father and I can't protect him," Christian told WXYZ.

"I wanted with everything in me to see him grow up," Christian said.… been recovered but they declined to comment to ABC News Monday on how many people were arrested Saturday or on a possible motive.

"This heinous crime has sent shockwaves throughout our community and our department is devastated and mourning," Detroit Interim Police Chief James White said in a statement.

"I am devoted to bringing local law enforcement leaders together at the table to put an end to the senseless violence plaguing our community," White said. "Little Brison deserved a chance to grow up."

State police said local and federal law enforcement are helping with the ongoing investigation.

"We are still asking anyone with information about this shooting to contact 734.287.5000 or 855.MICH-TIP," state police said.

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(NEW YORK) -- A 9-month old baby has died after reportedly drowning in a bathtub on Father’s Day.

The incident occurred at approximately 2 p.m. at a family home in Pink Hill, North Carolina when Lenoir County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to a call to reports of a child not breathing, according to a statement published by the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office.

But when EMS officials arrived at the home they found that a 9-month-old child had drowned in the bathtub.

Family members along with EMS personnel attempted life-saving measures on the child but were unable to resuscitate the infant, authorities said.

“Any loss of a child is a terrible tragedy, especially on a special event such as Father’s Day,” Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram said in a statement released on social media. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family for their loss.”

The Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office have confirmed they will conduct a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine if there was any criminal wrongdoing or negligence involved in this case.

Police have said that they will not be releasing the name of the victim or the family until their investigation into the incident is complete.

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(NEW YORK) -- A waitress was allegedly abducted and assaulted by a group of five people after chasing them down when they walked out on their $70 bill.

The incident occurred at approximately 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, at the Nifty Fifty’s in Turnersville located in Washington Township, New Jersey, when police say the 20-year-old waitress was taken away in a vehicle for a short time after confronting a group she had served in the restaurant, according to ABC News’ Philadelphia station WPVI.

Surveillance footage obtained by WPVI shows the woman being pulled into the White Dodge Durango as one person flees the vehicle before it pulls away with the waitress inside.

"They pulled her into the vehicle and assaulted her inside the vehicle," Washington Township Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik told WPVI in an interview following the incident. "The vehicle headed north on Route 42, made a U-turn and was heading south towards Monroe Township, and pushed her out of the vehicle.”

It was then that authorities say the woman was able to run back to Nifty Fifty’s and immediately call the police.

She suffered a number of bruises and a possible concussion during the assault and abduction, according to WPVI. She was taken to a local hospital, treated for her injuries and released.

"Say it ain't so," John Hill, an employee at Nifty Fifty’s told WPVI. "As an employee, that makes me feel bad and mad at the same time."

"This is such a family restaurant; oh, this is crazy," customer Stacie Garris-Oliver of Lindenwold, New Jersey, told WPVI.

The suspects involved in the case were last seen driving a white Dodge Durango on Rt. 42 south near Monroe Township and are still at large.

Gurcsik said that rather than chase people who run out on their bill, employees should try to take down the license plate of their vehicle instead and report it to the authorities. Police said employees should try to take down the license plate of customers who dine without paying and call authorities.

Said Gurcsik: "Do not chase after accused suspects and confront them yourselves."

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ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- After a year of students dealing with the emotional and mental toll of remote school on top of a deadly pandemic, the return to in-person learning was seen as a return to some semblance of normalcy.

But for many students, the return to schools, and gathering in larger groups is also a reminder of the underlying threat of gun violence, which has surged into the spotlight in recent months.

The COVID-19 pandemic coincided with an unexpected rise in gun violence and recently, several graduation-related events that have resulted in shootings highlight the “epidemic” of gun violence in the U.S, officials said.

Activists say the incidents reveal a number of issues, including the sheer number of guns in the country, the lack of security around those guns, minimal consequences in many non-fatal shootings and what they say are "weak" gun laws.

Surging gun violence

Data from The Gun Violence Archive, an independent archive of gun violence incidents, shows that 43,558 people died from firearm-related injuries, including suicide, in 2020, compared to 39,537 in 2019.

This year, the United States is on track to hit a similar figure, with over 20,000 people having died so far from firearm-related injuries, including over 700 children and teens.

The level of gun violence during the pandemic came as a surprise initially to Dr. Cassandra Crifasi, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy. But she said that “all of the same drivers of violence in terms of economic instability … were just as prevalent in practice and exacerbated by this pandemic."

With the warmer summer months ahead, when gun violence traditionally rises, Crifasi said the level of violence is likely to persist.

In light of this, states such as New Jersey are preparing for graduation ceremonies to be potential targets. The Regional Operations & Intelligence Center of the New Jersey State Police views these ceremonies as “attractive targets due to the presence of large crowds and the likelihood that audience members will record and/or livestream the ceremony," according to its intelligence dissemination report.

Recent incidents

In a series of recent shootings at graduation parties around the country, many of the victims and suspects were in their teens and early 20s.

As people left a graduation party at the Hookah Inn in Kendall, Florida on June 6, people in two vehicles opened fire, killing three people and injuring five according to Miami-Dade Police. Three teenagers that were believed to be at the Hookah Inn have been arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder for a shooting that happened on the Florida Turnpike moments before the graduation party ended. Officials are investigating both shootings as they believe the two may be connected.

On the same day in Sanford, North Carolina, police charged a 16-year-old as a juvenile with murder and possession of a firearm as a minor after Jason Lamont Harrington Jr. 18, was killed at a graduation party.

In Rocky Mount, North Carolina, a 17-year-old was shot and 19-year-old Frank White IV was killed at a graduation party on June 5.

Key issues

One of the reasons these shootings continue to happen, according to Crifasi, is that many of the perpetrators are never caught.

“The national clearance rate, on average for homicides, is around 45 to 50%, and it's even lower for non-fatal shootings,” Crifasi said. “So we have a pretty abysmal track record at holding people accountable for engaging in violence.”

According to Crifasi, when teens and young adults commit these acts of violence, many may not fully understand their actions, as “their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully evolved, and so they don't always have long-term planning, they're not always thinking about the consequences of their behavior.”

Another issue is gun security, according to Lisa Geller, state affairs manager of The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a violence prevention organization. She said too many children have access to guns that aren’t secured properly.

“About a third of American homes with kids do not lock their firearms up safely, and so when you're looking at a significant number of homes, knowing that there are more guns in this country than there are people, that is a lot of children who have access to firearms,” Geller told ABC News.

Finding ways to reduce access to guns for underage teens is key to reducing teen-involved gun violence, according to Crifasi, because “these kids can't go out and buy guns on their own.”

Activists demand change on 'weak' gun laws

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization fighting for gun violence public safety measures, said that the graduation party shootings “reminded us why this epidemic demands immediate action.”

“Graduation parties should be celebrations, not bloodbaths,” Watts told ABC News. “Our nation’s weak gun laws enable gun violence at parties, places of work and worship, and other spaces where we should be safe.”

The upwards trend in gun sales since 2000 concerns Geller, who adds she is "very worried about the number of guns that were acquired last year and are still being acquired. The more guns that we add into this country, the more people are going to be at risk of gun violence."

According to The Trace, a non-profit that reports on gun violence in America, 1.6 million guns were sold in May 2021, though the highest spike in gun purchases was during the pandemic in June 2020, with 2.7 million guns sold.

Teenagers like Jeannie She, 17, a board member of Students Demand Action, a volunteer organization associated with Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, are advocating for broad action on all levels, like encouraging safe storage of firearms in the home, developing community-based violence intervention programs in communities with high rates of gun violence and pushing for federal legislation to support schools so that students no longer need to worry about the next school shooting.

Yoonie Yang, 18, a senior from Chattanooga, Tennessee, also with Students Demand Action, is worried about gun violence increasing in public spaces as the country moves out of the pandemic.

“We have a lot of loopholes and laws regulating firearms possession and purchasing, and we've even seen it in the last couple of months, as we've opened up again, we've already seen shootings in public places,” Yang told ABC News.

And Makayla Jordan, a 17-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama, sees gun safety reform as being long overdue.

“In my 17 years of living, there hasn't been a single meaningful gun violence or gun safety bill that has been passed,” said Jordan, who said she got involved with Students Demand Action after a fatal school shooting in her community. Now, like others, she advocates for background checks, gun buybacks and community violence prevention organizations to combat gun violence.

“I definitely grew up in the middle of the gun violence crisis. So I know for sure that students younger than me are concerned about this, even students that are freshmen in high school, that are eighth-graders, are worried about this issue,” Jordan said.

What’s to come

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland acknowledged a rise in violent crime in the country last month, beginning in 2020, and launched a three-prong program to attempt to tackle it. He said the approach aims to build trust between law enforcement and communities as well as measure the effectiveness of new targeted practices to lower gun violence. The Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program, which provides community-based violence intervention programs and efforts to place the U.S. Attorney’s Office in direct contact with initiatives on federal, state, and local levels, is part of Garland’s approach to mitigate violence crime that arises in the summer.

These programs have achieved previous success when led by members within a given community and with both state and federal support, according to Crifasi. “Oakland is a great example of how they've worked with these community based organizations to advance these principles of peace and to make sure that violence is being interrupted.”

After the House recently passed two bills that would expand background checks on gun sales in the U.S., activists are hoping that if passed in the Senate, that they continue to gain momentum on gun safety legislation.

“At age 18, I have never lived in a country in which we have seen gun sense legislation come from Congress, or from the White House,” said Yang. As the bills rest in the hands of the Senate, she hopes that all levels of government “wake up to the reality of gun violence.”

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