NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A dangerous trend in Nashville is growing and is centered around the number of guns being stolen from cars and later used to commit violent crimes. The most concerning part is these weapons are ending up in the hands of juveniles.

In total, 608 guns have been stolen this year and 70% of them were stolen from cars.

“We do have a problem with guns and we have a problem with gun possession,” said Jude Sheila Calloway with the Metro Juvenile Justice Center.

During the pandemic, the justice center saw a major decrease in the number of teens having to come to court, but lately, there has been a new concern. Judge Calloway says this new trend is easy to spot.

“That trend that we are seeing that we are concerned about is the number of guns that our youth are finding. In particular, they are finding them in unlocked cars and the number of car thefts and gun possessions for youth is definitely on the rise and it’s something we’ve got to get a better handle on,” explained Judge Calloway.

Judge Calloway said she sees it all too often — juveniles coming into the court system for possessing a handgun. Between January 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021, there were 25 juveniles charged with possessing a handgun. That number has more than doubled this year, with 57 juveniles charged with possessing a handgun.

“The problem is that they don’t have the maturity, the brain capacity to understand the seriousness of what it could mean if a gun in their possession were to go off. If they were to shoot someone, if they were to kill someone, if they were to kill themselves,” Judge Calloway explained.

Over the weekend, two teens were arrested by Metro Nashville Police, after they fled on foot from a stolen Honda Accord. The teens, ages 15 and 16, were both in possession of a handgun. News 2 asked, why are these teens carrying such dangerous weapons?

“We’ve had youth that have said they take guns for their protection, that they’ve taken guns because the neighborhoods that their living in aren’t safe and they feel like they need to protect themselves with guns,” said Judge Calloway, but she explained the exact reason is hard to pinpoint.

The good news is that few juveniles who go through the system come back. Judge Calloway explained changes need to be made.

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As part of a PSA with Metro Police Chief John Drake and District Attorney Glen Funk, the three encourage residents to “Park SMART,” by locking firearms in a secure place and making sure to not leave valuables in the car.