There has always been crime in this city (no doubt a correlation with there always being a lot of poverty in this city). It was bad before the storm and it is bad now. The figures per head of population make this city one of the most dangerous in America. There are tales of shootings, murders and muggings. My boss was robbed at gun point (that's AK47 gun point) on his own front doorstep in front of his wife and child on New Years Eve.
I was prompted to write this post by Mark's excellent post about his wife witnessing guns brandished a stones throw away from NOCCA where one of their children goes for dance classes. This is the comment I wrote on his blog:
Yet again a brilliant post - although one I would have rather you had not had to write!!!
As a legal alien from a civilisation without guns, American gun violence has always shocked me. I'm not stranger to it - a man was shot and killed at our laundrette two weeks before we left for the summer, in Cincinnati and we used to listen to the gun-fire and wait to hear the accompanying ambulance sirens from our deck.
I know there is the whole (in my view preposterous) right to bear arms thing here but really hows it working out? In the UK we have a tiny fraction of the gun violence (yes, we have some - but its tiny compared with the US - even per head of population). The police don't carry guns (we have a gun squad if needed). Its very hard to own a gun (after the Dunblane massacre the laws were tightened).
What scared me most though, was when watching a British TV program recently the person (a cop) was in danger and my automatic reaction was "oh no they don't have a gun"!!! So quickly we become used to guns and them being a necessity. When I first came to this country I was freaked out and scared everytime I saw a cop with their gun - now I'm scared if they don't have one.
We as humans are easily persuaded and our fear often clouds our judgements. The rise in crime in NOLA scares me and I have no answers. But if guns were not a "right" in this country I think it would be a lot safer.
I will never understand the American obsession with guns. Guns kill people and that is their purpose. I understand the right to bear arms if you are a pioneer fending for your life but we do not live in pioneer days. It is anachronistic. Yes, I know people now view guns as a necessity to defend yourself from all the criminals that patrol our streets, but this is the cycle this country is stuck in.
I wish I knew an easy answer to this, but I don't. I just know that I hate that aspect of this country.
The crime in this city is bad and the drug-lords have returned but without their normal ghetto enclaves of business their violence has spread to other normally, safer areas of town. I think the other issue is that when you have so many people so profoundly affected by such a catastrophic event as Katrina you have a population whose mental health is unstable and therefore more prone to extreme behaviour. Now I'm not saying that this means that everyone who lost their belongings, is living in a FEMA trailer, or is displaced, is waving a gun and robbing people!! - just that those with a predilection towards such behaviour are more likely to exhibit such behaviour as a result of their experience.
I think it is another symptom of loss in this city and a way of lashing out. This city could really benefit from an army of mental health professionals.
I understand why it is the way it is, I do not condone it and it makes me sad and angry.
I hate guns!