• U.S.

Gun Shirts Are Out

1 minute read

FOR TEENAGERS IN THE WASHINGTON AREA, THEY are a hip fashion statement: T shirts emblazoned with a 9-mm handgun or a Mac 10 semiautomatic pistol on the front and rap lyrics such as “Mac Dad’ll make ya jump, jump” on the back. But to alarmed teachers and parents, the hot-selling shirts are inciting echoes of gun violence that has become a part of the area’s teen culture and claimed 385 lives last year alone. At several schools, principals are asking students to turn the shirts inside out or change clothes.

The gun-shirt craze has been a jackpot for vendors, who collect $13 to $15 a garment. Some sellers have continued peddling the shirts, claiming a teenager who wears a gun shirt isn’t likely to attract attention to himself by also toting a gun. Other vendors insist it is only a fad but have halted the supply in response to parental concern. “But T shirts don’t kill people,” says manufacturer Ben S. Ali, who has stopped selling the shirts. “People kill people.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com