Gang related incidents have been a chronic problem throughout the United States for several
years now. Los Angeles, perhaps the area most troubled by gang violence in the country, is once again in
the news. On September 17, 1995, 3-year-old Stephanie Kuhen was with her younger brother, 2-year-old
Joseph Kuhen when the driver of the car taking them home made a wrong turn early Sunday morning.
Gang members surrounded the vehicle, blocked the driver's escape and opened fire. Stephanie Kuhen was
killed and Joseph was shot through the ankle. Currently, there are four members of the gang known as
the 'Mexican mafia' in custody. Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams called the gang 'vicious,'
saying they have 'terrorized' the neighborhood for years1. On September 27, 1995, the Los Angeles
Times printed one response to the shooting written by two emergency physicians, H. Range Hutson MD,
and Deirdre Anglin MD, who were deeply saddened by the shooting.
The strongest argument presented in the letter written by Hutson and Anglin was that unless the
root causes of gang formation are effectively addressed, and gang access to illegally obtained firearms is
nullified, gang violence will continue. The claim was presented in such a fashion that, while based on
widely accepted ideas, an appeal to the emotions through sympathy for the injured children was also
applied. To justify their claim, statistics such as 28 children under the age of 10 were murdered between
1987 and 1994, 95% of which were murdered with firearms and over half the murders were done as drive-
byes. Unfortunately, the means to correct even one of these problems was not included.
Hutson and Anglin do cite what they consider to be the root causes of gang formation: poverty,
stressed families, unemployment, underemployment, lack of education, racism, and a...