The mugshots lie. They aren’t hardened men, they are young ones; some just teens.

Immature and emotional — but with deadly access.

“I think they can get weapons as easily as they can get a pair of tennis shoes now,” says Tim McCoy, of the well-known community education center, Creative Visions.

On this subject, you’ll find activists and police in full agreement.

“You have younger kids getting involved in much more violent crime,” says Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department. “Their ages are trending down and the acuity of the crime is rising.”

780 guns taken off Des Moines streets last year. A 22% increase over the previous, 3-year average. Many taken from kids — younger than ever.

“We had to move our target demographic from 15-25 to 11-25,” says McCoy, speaking of the Des Moines youth Creative Visions seeks to connect with.

Tim McCoy and the others at Creative Visions say the desire for guns is in the culture. Police say access to them is no easier to explain. 

“They ask us how kids get these guns — we have over 50 stolen out of cars each year,” Parizek points out. “So there’s a piece where lawful gun owners need to pitch in here also.”

There’s desire and access, and deadly results. But there’s also what comes after. A young man’s fate is sealed.

“These kids don’t actually have any understanding of what the consequences are,” says Ivette Muhammad, the COO of Creative Visions. ” Until they’re actually behind those bars and reality sets in.”

A reality hard to grasp for anyone … especially with such a young mind.