Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Day After the New Orleans Mother's Day Shooting

This post supplements a longer post at BlogHer.com.

I received an email on Monday (May 13) from BlogHer's News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch looking for people willing to write about the Mother's Day shooting. When I saw it, I was annoyed. No. I was angry in a way I couldn't understand. I figured that people not from here thought the incident was another "mass shooting story" like Newtown or Aurora, but I knew better.

I figured New Orleans would be all over the news for the wrong reasons again, CNN, ABC, NBC up in our faces aiming their cameras at our freakish dysfunction. I kept thinking, these people aren't here. They won't understand. They don't love us. Some of them will just watch like we're a train wreck, too. Oh, I hope they catch these guys, lock 'em up, and throw away the key.

Testy, I wrote to the editor:
Why does [your website] want to cover it? It's bangers shooting into crowds, which unfortunately is not that unusual down here now and not the kind of story [the website] has covered before. I'm not against the coverage. I'm just curious. Why now and what's the angle? It happened in my ward. I drove through the crowd about two hours before it happened.
Grace wrote back very graciously explaining her ideas on a possible angle. She thought that perhaps people would see a connection between this story and the gun violence/control debates that emerged after Newtown, the discussion that seems to have been shelved. She mentioned the 5-year-old who shot and killed his sister and the numbers of young people dying from gun violence around the country. She also said that perhaps the story was that the New Orleans shooting would not be perceived as the Newtown shooting had been.

Still on edge, I wrote back:
In the case of the Newtown shooting, gun violence got attention mainly because it was children who were shot in an otherwise "non-violent" middle-class area. The New Orleans shooting should not be perceived the same as Newtown unless it is proven that the person shooting was a lone gunman who is not connected to the circumstances behind our typical shootings down here. Usually, it's some impulse-control-deficient idiot who sees a rival from another gang and doesn't care that he has to shoot into a crowd to shoot that rival.
The kind of gun violence that goes on in New Orleans will not be solved by ID [background] checks. ID checks assume gun violence is far more simple than it is. I'd be shocked to learn the shooter in last night's incident bought his gun from a legitimate dealer. And yet, the kinds of solutions it would take to curb the violence in New Orleans are unlikely to ever be undertaken by legislators that can't even bring themselves to pass legislation as simple as ID checks.

I don't know what to say. I guess I'll wait to see what [another writer who offered to cover it] writes. I'm somewhere between numb and raving mad about this shooting. So, I'm having trouble seeing how a blog piece related to gun violence in general can even come close to approaching the depth needed to address the trouble we're having in New Orleans.

All I can say is that we've had these troubles long before the Newtown shooting. Gun violence in New Orleans is connected to poverty, the disproportionate number of black people being sent to prison, the criminalization of drug use, a lack of jobs, a dysfunctional education system, and other issues. Yesterday's shooting is not the same as the Newtown shooting and the only comparison that can be made is that somebody had a gun.

Look at how quickly the outrage over Newtown faded. If America can't force Congress to address gun violence in the wake of mostly little white children being shot, what hope is there for families suffering in a city like New Orleans?

Below are just a few of the [gun violence] stories I have either mentioned or [have] been aware of or [have] been connected to in the last year. I add them so that you or anyone else reading will know why I am so frustrated.

There was nothing wrong about the editor's query. She made a reasonable request, but the Mother's Day shooting had undone me. Years of worry and stress fell on me at once, it seemed. . . . Return to my BlogHer.com post.

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