Whitten Preparatory School has a student body of 538. Nearly all of them raised their hands when U.S. Attorney Greg Davis asked them if they have seen a gun, know someone who's been shot or hear gunshots in their neighborhoods. Hinds County Senior Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green is here, to lead students in a pledge to never bring a gun to Whitten. She handles gun violence cases and the responses surprised even her.
"I was astounded that almost 99% have had some experience with guns," said Green.
Principal Victor Ellis invited professionals from law enforcement, the legal community and judicial system to Whitten. They're encouraging students to focus on their education, seek adult help in resolving conflicts and avoid gun violence.
"This is the age you want the seed planted because quite often it's our middle aged students that quite often make unhealthy choices," said Ellis.
Eight-grader Traveon Williams who witnessed the shooting of a relative, is impressed that all these professionals care about them.
"I though it was amazing," said Williams. Heread a portion of the pledge they recited.
"I will never bring a gun to school. I will never use a gun to settle a personal problem or dispute; I will use my influence with my friends to keep them from using guns to settle disputes," said Williams.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports in 2013, nearly 18 Mississippians out of every 100,000 were killed by a firearm. Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance told students not all adults are good role models and it's their responsibility to make good decisions.
"Hopefully you put a seed in their minds that they choose not to participate and we cut it off at the root," said Vance.
The students also signed an anti-gun violence banner.