“You’ve got 15-, 16-, 17-year-old who don’t even expect to see 20. How sad is that?” said Chief Schubert.By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Youth violence in our region has risen to shocking levels. Already this year, 16 teenagers have been murdered in Allegheny County as younger and younger men have settled disputes with guns.

Police say underneath it all is the availability of illegal guns. Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert says he has a new initiative to take them off the street.

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Chief Schubert is vowing a new crackdown to get these guns and especially take them out of the hands of young people. And while Schubert is pledging a new commitment by law enforcement, he’s calling on the community to step up as well.

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“You’ve got 15-, 16-, 17-year-old who don’t even expect to see 20. How sad is that?” said Schubert.

As chief of Pittsburgh Police, Scott Schubert is sickened by the rampant rise in youth violence and the spread of illegal guns among the young. He is vowing to step up efforts to get guns off the street.

“It’s going to be more aggressive,” said Schubert. “We’re going to do everything we can using the resources to include our federal partners to get these guns off the street and find out where they’re coming from.”

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The centerpiece of the plan involves a partnership with the ATF, which is committing two field agents and an analyst to the city gun trafficking unit. The hope is to expand gun seizure efforts, focusing on straw purchases and illegal gun street sales, many times in exchange for drugs.

But the chief is also calling on gun owners to keep their guns secure and make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.

“To not leave them in their cars and lock them up in their homes and take responsibility as well,” said Schubert.

Schubert says he’ll be emphasizing training for officers to recognize the traits of someone carrying an illegal gun, establish probable cause and make an arrest. But he says family and friends of these young people are aware they have these guns and have a responsibility to take them away.

“This is a community issue, this isn’t a police issue, this is a community issue. And they have just as much responsibility as everybody else to say, ‘hey, this person, this son, this brother, whoever, if they can’t get it off of them, then get someone else to get it off of them’ because somebody is going to end up dead and it might be them,” said Schubert.

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It has been a very violent year, but there has been a lull in the shootings and homicides in the past month and a half. Taking more guns off the street would likely continue that trend for the good.