By Ken Taylor
July 18, 2014
Tonight I had to leave our homeless ministry to buy some coffee. It was a wet day and the men tonight wanted coffee to help warm them up and we were out. I drove to Dollar General on Old Gentilly to buy some. At the checkout were 5 boys ranging in age from about 8 to 11 buying guns. They bought assault rifles and pistols and a machine gun. Yes, they all had the orange tip indicating that they were not real. As soon as they paid for their “toys” they ripped open the packaging and began firing them and waving them in the air. Before one of the boys left the store I warned him that they should be very careful and that children had been shot carrying “toy” guns.
I left the store and they were outside putting the guns under their shirts and in their pants, acting for all the world like the “toys” were real. I spoke again, this time to all of them, about the danger that even these toy guns posed for them in the city. Another man in the parking lot was instructing them about the dangers as well.
I drove off still not feeling good about these young men. As I saw them in my rear view window they were in the parking lot acting a little hesitant about what they were going to do next. I needed to get back to the church. I got a block down the street and God prompted me to turn around and go back. They were still in the parking lot and I went over to them and told them I was worried about them walking home with these “toys.” One boy had pulled out a plastic “toy” knife and was going for the throat of another. I told them this looked bad. One of the boys said, “Where is your car? Will you take us home?” I showed them my van and said, “Get in,” after finding out that they lived about a mile away, near where the old Desire Housing Project had been.
As I drove them home I discussed the potential dangers of their guns, asked them about where they went to church (most of them gave me the name of the church they attended), and told them how God loved them. When they got out they thanked me then pulled out their guns and walked down the street, brandishing their fake weapons.
I pray for these boys. I know they know about deadly violence in their neighborhood. I pray that they will not graduate to real guns. I pray that they will be led to give their lives to Christ. They should not have been allowed to walk a mile from their neighborhood to buy and brandish deadly looking toys. I pray for their parents and that they will not one day have to grieve the loss of one of the boys to the damage inflicted by real guns.
I know how much fun I had as a child with toy guns. I had every kind you can imagine. The urban environment is not like my rural homeland. These boys face real danger, made more immediate by the brandishing and carrying of toys that look deadly. I don’t think Dollar General, or other stores, should stock such realistic looking guns. I am thankful I was held up for just a little while by these 5 boys with guns. I was reminded again how much we need to pray for the children and youth around us.
Editor’s note: The views expressed in individual Geaux Therefore blogs are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.