Watch Senator Lindsey Graham call for arming yourself to protect against roaming gangs following a natural disaster.
Graham: Let me give an example. That you have a lawless environment where you have a natural disaster or some catastrophic event and those things, unfortunately, do happen. And law and order breaks down because the police can’t travel, there’s no communication. And there are armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods. Can you envision a situation where if your home happens to be in the cross-hairs of this group that a better self-defense weapon may be a semiautomatic AR-15 versus a double-barrel shotgun? [...]
What I’m saying is if my family was in the cross-hairs of gangs that were roaming around New Orleans or any other location, that the turn effect of an AR-15 to protect my family is better than a double-barrel shotgun but the Vice President and I have a disagreement on that.
Such a scenario did occur in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, but it didnt transpire the way Senator Graham imagines.
The truth is when average gun fetishists envision a scenario in which they will conquer the roaming horde with their AR-15, the opponents they see themselves facing are typically going to be stereotyped as non-Caucasians. And in the case of New Orleans, this mixture of racial paranoia and faux bravado played out in a way that saw black men fleeing the floods of Katrina only to be shot by one of those “roaming gangs,” except these roaming gangs were made up of trigger-happy white men with plenty of guns.
It was September 1, 2005, some three days after Hurricane Katrina crashed into New Orleans, and somebody had just blasted Herrington, who is African-American, with a shotgun. “I just hit the ground. I didn’t even know what happened,” recalls Herrington, a burly 32-year-old with a soft drawl.
The sudden eruption of gunfire horrified Herrington’s companions–his cousin Marcel Alexander, then 17, and friend Chris Collins, then 18, who are also black. “I looked at Donnell and he had this big old hole in his neck,” Alexander recalls. “I tried to help him up, and they started shooting again.” Herrington says he was staggering to his feet when a second shotgun blast struck him from behind; the spray of lead pellets also caught Collins and Alexander. The buckshot peppered Alexander’s back, arm and buttocks.
Herrington shouted at the other men to run and turned to face his attackers: three armed white males. Herrington says he hadn’t even seen the men or their weapons before the shooting began. As Alexander and Collins fled, Herrington ran in the opposite direction, his hand pressed to the bleeding wound on his throat. Behind him, he says, the gunmen yelled, “Get him! Get that nigger!” [...]
Facing an influx of refugees, the residents of Algiers Point could have pulled together food, water and medical supplies for the flood victims. Instead, a group of white residents, convinced that crime would arrive with the human exodus, sought to seal off the area, blocking the roads in and out of the neighborhood by dragging lumber and downed trees into the streets. They stockpiled handguns, assault rifles, shotguns and at least one Uzi and began patrolling the streets in pickup trucks and SUVs. The newly formed militia, a loose band of about fifteen to thirty residents, most of them men, all of them white, was looking for thieves, outlaws or, as one member put it, anyone who simply “didn’t belong.”
We can’t trust average citizens to distinguish friend from foe, or even what their definition of “friend” is, and we certainly can’t trust their motives when they set out to protect their neighborhood from people who ‘don’t belong.’
Our law enforcement institutions aren’t perfect, but they are trained to make these distinctions. And if law enforcement is seen as inadequate or unreliable, we must improve it, not replace it with a false sense of authority and a corresponding license to kill.