• About every three hours, an American child or teen dies as a result of a firearm.
• Between 1963 and 2012, firearm deaths among U.S. children were three times greater than combat deaths among American soldiers during the same period.
Inspired by the belief that young people, through their everyday decisions, can play a role in reducing gun violence, students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Belle Chasse signed individual pledges on Oct. 19 promising to never to bring a gun to school; to never to use a gun to settle a personal problem or dispute; and to use their influence with their peers to discourage the use of guns to settle disputes.
Their pledges also contained the following statements of hope: “My individual choices and actions, when multiplied by those of young people throughout the country, will make a difference. Together, by honoring this pledge, we can reverse the violence and grow up in safety.”
“A lot of people think guns are toys. They’re nottoys. Guns are tools,” said Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Lon Boudreaux, visiting campus to remind the assembled youngsters of the appropriate settings for firearm use: the military, law enforcement, self-protection and recreation.
“If you see a gun and you’re not with a parent who knows how to handle a gun, do not touch it for any reason at all; in fact, get away from it and go talk to an adult and tell the adult where it’s at,” Boudreaux advised.
The deputy offered additional tips: Never point your fingers in the shape of a gun at another person, even in jest; and never say, “I’ll shoot you!” for any reason.
“(A gun) looks like a piece of metal, right?” Boudreaux said. “But there’s an explosion that’s going to go off inside that gun that’s very violent. You wouldn’t take a knife out of your mother’s kitchen drawer and rub it across your arm, would you? If you’re going to be injured with that, what’s the difference between that and pointing a handgun at something and pulling the trigger (out of curiosity)?”
At the subsequent school Mass, students handed their signed pledges to their pastor, Father Kyle Dave, for delivery to Kenneth Polite Jr., U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
During the homily, Father Dave said every adult and child is expected be responsible stewards of the “tools of God’s creation” – to use their gifts in ways that are always “life-giving” and constructive.
“It’s not easy to resist the temptation to do the knee-jerk reaction – to take a tool, such as a firearm or some other weapon, and lash out at somebody,” said Father Dave, noting that the violence depicted repeatedly in video games, TV and movies has a numbing effect on both children and adults.
“Everywhere you go it seems like that’s the mood, that’s the norm,” Father Dave said. “But that’s not the way, and we can say that because Jesusshows us the way!”
OLPH, Belle Chasse, was one of more than 40 local schools that signed the Oct. 19 pledge.