permitted for those 21 years of age or older who have undergone certified firearms training and have obtained a concealed carry permit from the municipality in which they reside. Possession of a firearm within a school safety zone, school property, school functions, or on school-sponsored transportation, however, is a felony.
Interviews conducted for this study consistently indicated widespread ownership of firearms across the county. Most of the guns owned were reported to be shotguns and rifles; however, ownership of handguns was also stated to be common. Most people agreed that hunting was the most prominent reason for owning firearms, but also noted that people kept them for secondary purposes of self-protection and conveying authority.
Owning firearms was also common among youth. Youths participating in focus group discussions stated that a large portion of the people they knew own some sort of a firearm. Their estimates of the percentage of people they knew who owned firearms ranged from 50 to 75 percent.
Under these conditions, obtaining a firearm was seen to be easy, even if one did not own one. Unanimously, all focus group participants, male and female, stated that they could easily obtain a firearm if they wanted, most indicating that it would take between 15 minutes and an hour. One said it would take “two seconds, if I had driven.” Another stated: “Most guys in our community have a gun. It is not like a handgun, like I am going to go shoot up somebody, a lot of guys just have them.” Another said: “Now that it’s summer, a lot of people carry guns in their trucks. Friends carry guns in their cars. In the school year you can’t bring a gun on to school property. Now that it is summer, they have got gun racks behind their heads and show off your guns to people. I mean, I have one right behind my head in my truck. It’s not like a big thing.”
Firearms are thus accepted as an everyday part of life for people in this area, including young people. Guns are ubiquitous.
Of Rockdale County’s estimated 70,111 residents, about 28 percent are under the age of 18. Public education data for Rockdale County indicate that 71 percent of students are white, 22 percent are black, 3.8 percent Hispanic, and the remainder Asian, American Indian, and multiracial. The gender ratio is equal.
As in most communities, youth in Rockdale County frequently classified one another according to a set of local categories used to identify particular peer groupings. Some common distinctions made by and of local youth were among “jocks,” “preps,” “Christian kids,” “rednecks,” “blacks,” “Hispanics,” “wiggers,” “drama kids,” “band kids,” the “straight-edge mafia,” and “loners.”