Gun fascination puts youths in harm’s way

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A teenager posting a photo that shows him holding a gun to his own head is just one example of recent social media sharing that concerns St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre.

Law enforcement officers in St. John are monitoring and responding where possible, but some parents are unaware it’s even occurring.

“When we go to the home, parents are shocked that their juvenile child is even posting pictures with guns,” Tregre told L’OBSERVATEUR last week. “We’re seeing it on social media daily.”

Tregre called it a “fascination” of youth to stand around with guns, posting pictures with themselves holding the weapons or displaying them in threatening manners.

The obvious problem is most, if not all children, participating in the fad are unfamiliar with the weapons they are brandishing.

Predictably, the worst-case scenario involves inexperienced youth dangerously playing with the guns and inadvertently shooting one another.

That was the case last month when an 18-year-old female arrived at River Parishes Hospital with a gunshot wound in her left arm.

The wound necessitated her being transferred to University Hospital for surgery.

She survived, and she was lucky the gunshot was not fatal, Tregre said.

The childish antics were compounded when the victim initially lied to police before admitting she and her sister were home with two male friends when one of the friends took out a gun from his waistband.

They played with the gun, and the shooter, who thought the gun was unloaded, pulled the trigger.

A Garyville teenager was identified as the shooter and arrested for illegal use of a weapon for the criminally negligent discharging of a firearm resulting in great bodily harm.

It might have started out as a game between teenagers, but this little gunplay resulted in a wound, surgery and an arrest.

Parents and role models must realize there is an escalating situation regarding youth in St. John Parish and their growing fascination with weapons.

If things don’t change, the results will get worse before they get better.