HRM Gun Violence

With this mornings news that there was a car-to-car shoot out on Main St. in Dartmouth (see Car hit by bullets in Dartmouth; two charged) it occurred to me that we are in a similar situation I was in when living in Anaheim, CA for a short time in the early-90's. We are living in a city where there are guns being carried by more and more people and the gun violence has become more "public".
How should we deal with this? I started learning about this shortly after being mugged at gunpoint in Anaheim. It was intense, terrifying, and generally made me very cautious about venturing out at night for a while. But, like many fears, I overcame this by educating myself.
Here are some things I learned:
  1. Understand the likelihood of being involved in a gun crime - just because you hear about an incident involving the discharge of a firearm doesn't mean there are bullets flying everywhere. People live their lives in cities that have many times the rate of gun violence we see here and never have problems. See also: HRM Crime Statistics.
  2. Understand your city - it's a fact: gun violence that is in public is more likely to be in one area over another but it is also possible anywhere (look at the stats; compared to the number of people in our area the rate of weapon violence is still pretty low and only some of those crimes involve a gun; fewer still are "public"). Listen to the news and try to learn which areas see the most incidents and what time it happens (it's often during "partying hours" when people have had too much to drink but are not yet burnt out and sitting in front of a TV with a pizza and wings; intoxication is almost always part of the recipe that leads to gun crimes). Can you help? Maybe - check out the neighborhood associations in your area and ask yourself if you have the time and desire to contribute to helping others find ways to live without violence.
  3. Learn to have situational awareness - be aware of what is happening around you; this is a skill you can learn and practice. If you see things like intense arguing, violent gesturing, or a fist fight starting these could be preludes to gun violence. If this is going on between people you don't know and you aren't feeling safe, make sure you have a way to become safe. You might want to consider calling police if you see actual violence (assault, brandishing a weapon, etc -- if you call police, do so from a safe place and not right in front of the people in conflict). See also: mindfulness.
That's all I know except for this: the answer to increasing gun violence is NOT to go buy a gun yourself. The likelihood of this helping you in a situation where you are involved in a random incident is almost zero. Don't be afraid; be aware.
It's not the bullet with my name on it that worries me. It's the one that says "To whom it may concern." ~Anonymous Belfast resident, quoted in London Guardian, 1991


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