We Tried This Once and the Results Were Horrible

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.

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  • D_C_Wilson

    Neal Stephenson wrote a novel about 15 or so years ago called “Snowcrash”. In it, he extrapolates from the urban “white flight” from the cities to everyone living in private, gated communities that completely segregated. Each one is racially homogenized. They’re even run by franchises like McDonald’s. The all-white enclaves are called “New South Africas.”

    Segregated, closed off communities managed with private security with orders to shoot anyone who “didn’t belong.”

    I can’t help but think that this would be the republican party’s wet dream.

  • i_am_allwrite

    What fucking scenario does senator closetcase envision in which police can’t travel but gangs can roam? What a useless dick.

  • muselet

    “And there are armed gangs roaming through neighborhoods.”

    Nope, not racist at all.

    –alopecia

  • http://www.facebook.com/wyman.bob09 Bob Wyman

    This is prime example of the problem with “blogs” and Internet “news” sites. Inadequate info, assumptions, personal bias, lack of fact checking and follow-up. Like-minded myopoic readers question not what are facts and what are not. To wit: “law enforcement institutions aren’t perfect, but they are trained to make these distinctions”. This has to be the most amateur statement I have read all week.
    The author should investigate this story firsthand but I suspect it would involve leaving his home and interviewing people of whom he is afraid. Knowing that no police officer will hold his hand he would need to hire a bodyguard who can “recognize” a “bad person”.
    Police are not trained to recognize bad guys, that would be impossible. Unless the person is robbing them or killing them. Police see everyone as suspect and as group, statistically kill more people and fire more rounds doing so while also wounding other officers in the progress of using firearms. I shall let the “blogger” here find out how many of those killed by police were innocent…

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      As a former LEO, I strongly disagree. The average LEO is better trained and equipped to handle people breaking the law than the average citizen. That’s the whole point behind having a professional police force in the first place. Are there some that are corrupt? Yes. Are there some that are incompetent? Yes. Is this true in every human profession? Yes. Those answers don’t change the underlying fact that LEO’s are better trained and equipped to handle lawlessness than the average U.S. citizen.

      Using your logic we might as well all do our own surgery, advocate for ourselves in court and prescribe ourselves drugs….because anyone can do it! What utter horseshit!

    • kushiro -

      It’s pretty impressive that you have managed to describe the character of the author without actually investigated him firsthand, interviewed or even met him. Now, some people might call that “inadequate info, assumptions, personal bias, lack of fact checking and follow-up”.

      But, no, I’d say you have a pretty unassailable opinion, uninformed or not. Well done.

    • JMAshby

      “I suspect it would involve leaving his home and interviewing people of whom he is afraid. Knowing that no police officer will hold his hand he would need to hire a bodyguard who can “recognize” a “bad person”

      Who am I afraid of? I must have missed something.

      That’s actually contradictory to what I was getting at. I’m not afraid of “the other,” but many people are, any many of those who are are also armed to the teeth. We shouldn’t enable paranoiacs or distill a false sense of authority or righteousness in them. That’s what Lindsey Graham is doing.

    • mrbrink

      That seems like a long way to go to say nothing.

      Your choice is an imperfect, though well-regulated militia(local police force) vs. an unregulated band of unaccountable and untrained imbeciles and you’re going with the untrained vigilante imbeciles? Going by your condescending tone and overzealous use of dick quotes this is unsurprising.

      “Police are not trained to recognize bad guys, that would be impossible. Unless the person is robbing them or killing them.”

      Maybe you’re just not very good at articulating your thoughts, but that statement undermines everything you stopped to crap out.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Bob Wyman, You complain that the author hasn’t taken time to investigate the story first hang, but then can’t even take the time yourself to look at the top of this page and find out the the name of the “blogger”.

  • mhr52

    The thing is LEOs are faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar more trigger happy than Junior Wizard Lamar Milton. Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Ousmane Zongo, etc. Meanwhile these boys shot like 3-5 rounds? On top of that, you can sue a private citizen easily or get them in jail for manslaughter or murder. How often do LEOs get convicted of even manslaughter when they kill someone?

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      You know why it’s so hard to convict them? Because in most cases the officers did try to follow policies to various degrees. Those situations are rarely cut and dried. Besdies, the standard for convicting on manslaughter charges is “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the officer engaged in “The unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice”. It is not easy to get that kind of confidence on the “unjustifiable, inexcusable and intentional” aspects. If you want more justice you don’t get rid of cops, you work on the laws and the procedures in court.

      Now that being said, do I think there are officers who got away with it? Absolutely, yes. So your response is to throw the baby out with the bathwater? For every cop committing manslaughter there are literally thousands of cops saving lives every day. But sure, lets just get rid of them all and let the average yahoos of the world who can barely wipe their arse properly run around with guns. I’m sure that will make everything better.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Well, I can’t find info on Lamar Milton. But the officers in the Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo cases were tried and the officer who shot Ousmane Zongo was found guilty and in all three cases substantial penalties were paid to the victim’s families.

      So your suggestion that the police are never penalized is just clearly flat-out wrong.

      Don’t you just hate when things like facts get in the way of a nice self-righteous rant?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694398245 Greg Porter

    “Our law enforcement institutions aren’t perfect, but they are trained to make these distinctions.”

    Would this be the same law enforcement who, during Katrina, shot and killed african-americans for the “crime” of fleeing the city, or who were caught on camera looting stores afterwards? Or, by some quirk in the spacetime continuum, was this story posted from some alternate reality where these things did not happen? See also a pickup truck with over 40 bullet holes in it courtesy of the Dorner manhunt, etc.

    I think if the conduct of -any- gun owner is “inadequate or unreliable” it should be improved. Banning some people’s guns and merely hand-wringing about the conduct of others seems a bit unequal to me. Especially when the others in this case -are- shielded with a false sense of authority and corresponding license to kill.

    • JMAshby

      Given that I clearly understand the problems we face, and given that I acknowledged that they aren’t perfect, this hostility is unwarranted.

      There are few things I find more disgusting or depressing than the shooting of Ronald Madison, but those involved were prosecuted and the NOPD was more or less disgraced. Any time the justice department has to come in to clean house you know it’s bad.

      As for your implication that we should regulate guns for law enforcement as much as we do civilians, I can’t agree with you there. Lax civilian gun laws are the reason our police departments have become increasingly militarized. It’s an arms race between paranoid white guys with dozens of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition and men who are, for the most part, just trying to do their jobs.

      With that said, my post wasn’t so much about trespasses by law enforcement as it was the idea that we should encourage people to don plastic badges from the dollar store and become vigilantes. Training does matter in that you have someone who’s seen too many buddy cop movies vs someone who’s actually been on the street.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694398245 Greg Porter

        As far as I can tell from looking at federal gun laws, they have become nothing but stricter over the past several decades, with the exception of the expiration of the Clinton AW ban, which by all measures was ineffective to begin with.

        So it seems odd to me that you say -the- reason police are becoming militarized are lax civilian laws. Looking at the technology involved, weapons that would be semi-automatic assault rifles or high-capacity pistols have been available to civilians since before WWII, so the existence of the weapons themselves is not a factor either.

        When we see near-daily erosion of things like our first and fourth amendment rights and the possibility of overturning the Voting Rights Act, I am unhappy with the notion that the average person is going to be further restricted in some way, while similar conduct by those in power is neither curtailed nor are they held accountable for it. If you and I shot up a neighborhood and put 40 bullet holes in a truck with no warning just because we thought Dorner was in it, would we still be allowed to own guns and would we still be out on the street?

        I think that if we are going to be making changes, it is not unreasonable to ask for accountability across the board. Those who have more power should be more responsible for its use, not less.

        • JMAshby

          Oh, I get it now. Gun laws have become nothing but stricter? Ha!

          Yeah, I remember the times prior to WWII when the American people possessed over 300 million guns, many of which also have high capacity magazines.

          Please proceed.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694398245 Greg Porter

            That’s not even remotely an answer. I contend that federal gun laws have become stricter. You say they have not, at least if I am interpreting “ha!” correctly. Start at say 1920 (almost certainly within a “lifetime”), work your way forward and show me how federal gun laws have become more lax.

            I do not have any figures for WWII, but we -do- have surveys going back to 1960, and they show a long-term -decline- in the rate of households with guns.

          • mrbrink

            “show me how federal gun laws have become more lax.”

            How about being able to carry guns in federal parks? That’s a pretty big one. Guns on trains is another.

            And your chart doesn’t say what you want it to say. With 300 million guns in circulation it says more guns are in the hands of fewer people, not that stricter gun laws are preventing people from owning a gun. It says that more and more households are not afraid of zombie deer and voting democrats. It says law enforcement and non-lethal forms of protection are rendering guns obsolete.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/LeShan-Jones/100000478051440 LeShan Jones

    I think much of these claims go
    back to the L.A riots in 92, when we see a couple of Korean store owners
    protecting their business by shooting at people. I’m sure the NRA loved that.

    Situations like that are rare in
    the extreme and are a good example of the irrational fear of crime so many gun-nuts
    have.

    I notice we have two descending opinions
    here, their arguments both sound like another guy I’ve been debating elsewhere.
    Basically arguing that the police are no better and not as well trained as we
    think, therefore that gives everyone else the right to enforce the law however
    they see fit.

    I find it kind of interesting
    that some really hold this view, yet they tend to ignore the incidents that
    have happened with their “ordinary armed citizen” who have mostly
    instigated a gunfight usually against unarmed foes.

    But I suppose they don’t mind
    Trayvon Martin’s happening from time to time, as long as they can continue to
    feel the false sense of security they get from a gun.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694398245 Greg Porter

      If I’m one of the two you refer to, I never said or even implied “that the police are no better and not as well trained as we think, therefore that gives everyone else the right to enforce the law however they see fit.” My statement is saying “the police are better at it” is a flawed assumption and that the legal protections they have from misconduct do not encourage an increased level of responsibility on their part. I approve of measures that result in improved safety and competence and for that matter, legal accountability on the part of -anyone- who has a gun. So, please read what I -actually- wrote, not what you -think- I wrote.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/LeShan-Jones/100000478051440 LeShan Jones

        Well I was mostly referencing the other guy as well as an ongoing debate I’ve been in elsewhere with similar implications.
        Police forces in many cities are underfunded and have been for a very long time, but that doesn’t mean that some random guy with a Glock is better suited to deal
        with crime than an actual cop.
        I’m all for various safety measures, but some like to make this into a zero-sum game
        and it is not.