New Orleans: We’re violent, but no longer lethal

Jul 3, 2014 by

Handprint(Post title credit: Alex Rawls of My Spilt Milk)

Earlier today, some friends and I were contemplating the following story, which notes an average of “…a shooting about every 18 hours in New Orleans” during 2013:

Despite downward trend, New Orleans has a staggering number of shootings

Mari Kornhauser was quick to note that the declining rate of fatal shootings is likely significantly influenced by excellent emergency room care. I believe, too, that the DA’s increased willingness to accept charges has had a quantifiable impact — the revolving door at Orleans Parish Prison is spinning slower these days due, in part, to fewer Article 701 releases.

And the veracity of the numbers noted in the article was also questioned, as the variety of charges that can result from gunfire are sometimes not so obvious (for example, one shoot-out on Dumaine Street in Tremé was reported to have resulted in a police report noting the charge as “vandalism” due to damage occurring to nearby vehicles).

Finally, in order to have the most meaningful statistical analysis, having an accurate count of incidents of gunfire would also be required… not an easy thing to calculate, as many incidents may result in multiple 911 calls or be misinterpreted as “fireworks.”

While none wish to make light of the violence that touches lives all too frequently in our City That Care Forgot, it is also true that gallows humor is an oft-celebrated coping mechanism in our beautifully absurd city. Commentary soon shifted to possible boosterism-style slogans (akin to the unintentional humor of the Ochner Hospital banner displayed at the Louis Armstrong International Airport):

“New Orleans: We’re violent, but no longer lethal.” ~ Alex Rawls
“New Orleans, where we can’t hit the broad side of a barn!” ~ Alex Rawls
“New Orleans, where even the bad guys party!” ~ Alex Rawls
“New Orleans, where we put the ‘play’ in ‘gunplay.'” ~ Alex Rawls
“New Orleans: The Gangs that couldn’t shoot straight.” ~ Karen Gadbois

Some expressed a more positive and/or inspirational tone, possibly with the hope of inspiring our city’s citizens to aim higher:

“New Orleans, where almost DOES count.” ~ Karen Gadbois
“NOLA for Lifers” ~ Karen Gadbois
(Mari remarked that this one, in particular, should made into a bumper sticker placed on all City Hall vehicles.)
“New Orleans: where the only thing high calibre is our music.” ~ Alex Rawls

As Mari Kornhauser noted: “Once again, New Orleans wears the tragicomedy mask one on top of the other — not side by side.”

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