Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Season's Greetings from Chinatown!

A couple of weeks ago, I was up on my roof taking down my Christmas lights1. I was almost finished when I noticed this blemish in the relatively new shingles.

I thought at first that it was some kind of fastener that the roofers had put in. But it was pretty wide and pretty exposed and definitely unlike anything else I could see on the roof. So I got a knife to inspect it and it came out pretty easy. And as I had begun to suspect, it was a bullet.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't there when I put the lights up in early December. So my guess is it landed on my roof on New Year's Eve. Shot by one of the idiots you hear firing bursts in the remote distance.

Which brings me to the title of my post. For a number of years, I've heard those bursts but never done anything about it. It made me mad but figured if I called the police, I would get a "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." response, phrased by a bureaucrat in blue rather than Robert Towne. That was my fault. By doing nothing, I said it, not the imagined police officer. I should have given the police a chance to do something, which I didn't.

But isn't it Chinatown?

Hell no, it's not Chinatown! We're a major city in a major nation in the early 21st century. And as a collateral effect of our nation's spending so much on the military, we now have all these technologies in the public sphere that developed first in the military. One such is gunshot location -- a way to pinpoint the location of gunshot.

Before I start sounding like I know what I'm talking about, let me say that I didn't know that such technologies even existed when I dug the bullet out. I could have imagined, but didn't know. 'til then I thought police would just have to wait around and listen real good to catch the idiots. Luckily I had a friend who had heard about London using gunshot location.

Anyway, maybe this technology is the kind of thing that MATAlac was referring to:
...I think the root problem is that Memphis doesn't realize that all of these ills have been vaccinated in other places. Our leaders attend these national conferences and meet with people who have solved these problems, yet they don't apply them here.
I'm not such an idiot that I believe gunshot location technology will cure our crime problems. But, it could be part of a crime-fighting cocktail.

Therefore my 2007 New Year's Eve (or before) Resolutions:
  1. I'm going to send a letter, complete with pictures, to my Mayors plus my City Council Person, Carol Chumney, and ask that they consider this technology.
  2. Next time I hear celebratory gunfire I'm going to call the police and leave Chinatown behind.

1Yes, it reads pretty bad that I was taking down my Christmas lights in early February. It is. But that very same day, I saw 2 Christmas trees lying curbside outside 2 different houses. I swear!

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Anonymous John Cameron said...

It seems like there is a certain level of crime that people have gotten used to around here. Nothing makes me angrier than shrugged shoulders (oftentimes from law enforcement)about problems like random gunfire and auto burglary. Still, who cares about running off people fed up with stuff like that when you can annex them later?

1:29 PM  
Blogger autoegocrat said...

Hey, at least you take down your Christmas lights.

4:11 PM  
Blogger MATAlac said...

Interestingly enough, I got into it with my philosophy circle(non-blog, non-Memphis) about the limits of personal freedom with some crossovers to this post

Guns / Cars / Drugs-

I've recently found some slugs around my house, Andy finds them when he cleans his pool and the streets directly behind my son's building have guns shot off for various less-than-safe reasons almost every night.

Cars kill more than guns. I rode my bike to work today thinking about how stupid the function of cars were in the first place and how cities could be incredibly more efficient if cars were out of the picture.

Drugs can be seen as personal responsibility, but in reality, drugs usually need a lot of guns and cars around to be distributed successfully.

My point is that working in libertarianism with communism doesn't really make sense in an ever more crowded planet. We once had the right to own slaves and killed a lot of people over it, rights expire as times change.

times change things

After spending a nasty Saturday at pawn shops a few weeks back, I began to see patterns where customers came in the door straight back to the macabre handgun case in the back. The NRA and local news have convinced us that owning one of these is a viable personal defense strategy. I believe that walking your dogs every night is 10 times more effective in solving our ills than keeping a piece in your car or nightstand. Millions of US citizens live in high crime areas without handguns, and still enjoy a n acceptable level of personal security. Until the days we can instantly scan people for mental illness problems as well as background checks, Handgun ammunition should be taxed beyond the pale.

10:27 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

autoegocrat, feel free to use this post as an excuse.

John, unfortunately I was the one who shrugged my shoulders in this case. I resolve to change that.

matalac, yes the Chris Rock solution, which I've been thinking about. Make ammunition so expensive via taxes that the idiots have to go to places who love their weapons and hate Memphis to buy their bullets.

And the dog walking is also good. In fact, I wonder if there are many/any examples of people getting mugged while walking bigger dogs (there was a man murdered while walking his dog in Raleigh, but I think it was a smaller dog -- could be wrong though).

On a personal protection level, the nice thing about dogs: they're visible so the risk to the attacker is always visible, they usually notice things you don't notice so it's hard to be surprised, attackers don't know what they're capable of, and dogs, if they are protective, don't understand the physics of handguns so are less likely to retreat in the presence of a gun. If I run errands at night, I always take my dogs.

3:42 PM  

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