Saturday, September 10, 2005

Disaster Guns. We have had little if any Katrina discussion on the blog. If you are like me, you are in an ongoing assimilation process with respect to all of the data (and opinion) coming through the internet and other media. Events tumble over one another so that whatever we might say has to be provisional at best. The issues raised by the events are not abstract ones to me, however. They are quite personal, having lived not only through Andrew but also the civil "unrest" that occurred in Miami during 1980. In fact, it is the 1980 anarchy to which I most often refer as I view the Katrina images. In 1980, Miami had race riots after the trial of some policemen who beat to death a black man. That trial resulted in the acquittals of the policemen.

On the Sunday following the verdict, we came out of church in Miami Springs. We looked to the east and saw columns of smoke rising up about three miles away, where black neighborhoods were predominant. Foolishily, I thought that I had to go to the office that afternoon, and I took the expressway east to get there. Its route took me on the south side of those neighborhoods, but I saw police at each ramp and through-traffic on the expressway was unimpeded. I arrived at the office downtown. When I got to our floor, high in the building, I walked down the hall to look out the north and west side, and what I saw horrified me. At least eight columns of smoke arose from the area of town which I had skirted coming in. Finally, belatedly, I realized that the danger was personal, not just to me but to my family at home. I called Carol, described what I saw, and told her I was on my way back.

As I drove up the ramp to get on the expressway, still in the city, a black man emerged on the side of the ramp ahead of me and to my left. I kept driving in his general direction and then saw that he had a large, broken concrete block in his two hands and was eyeing me. Before I could do anything, he heaved it. Fortunately, the missle first struck the hood of my car, about two feet in front of my face, and richochetted to my right, hitting the windshield on the passanger side and shattering it. The force of the concrete block hitting the hood actually penetrated the hood to some extent.

(Ironically, the City of Miami police headquarters was on the other side of the ramp. Those people, however, were otherwise occupied, which is part of the point.)

I kept driving until I saw a highway patrol car on the side, and I pulled over and told the trooper about what happened (this was before cell phones were ubiquitous). He radioed a report immediately. I drove on home unmolested.

When I pulled up in the driveway, Carol came out of the house, saw the windshield, and started crying.

Even then, back at home, I felt relatively safe. Because of some peculiar urban geography, Miami Springs is accessible only at certain points, and the police were at each one of those points. But we were not, after all, that safe. Now I would certainly stay home and would be much better prepared.

Which brings me to the most recent Carnival of Cordite, which I recommend. The theme for this edition is "Disaster
Guns". I would subtitle that theme "Arming Yourself for Anarchy". No less a noted figure than Glenn Reynolds is quoted as saying that including a gun in one's survival kit is appropriate. There are a number of links to blogs where people make recommendations about the appropriate firearms. (For example, one can purchase a very simple shotgun at Wal-Mart for less than $90.)

Yes, I am beginning to sound like every right-wing NRA gun nut NPR has ever panned, but you have to think about what is happening in NOLA and what could happen in the event of a disaster where you live, whether generated by the weather or by one of America's enemies with a WMD.

No comments: