A guy got shot in our new neighborhood last night. Apparently he was walking along Market Street when three bravos came up and demanded his dough. When the old guy kept on walking, one them produced a small-caliber handgun and shot him in the back. In the dry vernacular of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, “the wound was not life-threatening.” I imagine it still hurt like hell. But if he had any money he still has it; JSO said the three criminal masterminds ran off none the richer. I guess it could have been worse.
Still, when there’s a shooting three blocks from your house, you think about it more than if it had occurred across town. It happened at 6:30 p.m., a time when the wife and I often walk the dog down the same street. We pass all sorts of folks on that street, and we always say “hi” and they generally reply in a pleasant manner. At 6:30 p.m. yesterday, we were sitting on our genteel front porch, sipping white wine and remarking on how quiet the neighborhood seemed. Today I’ve been wondering if we haven’t been a bit naive. I’ve been wondering if I wasn’t a bit premature in getting rid of my own small-caliber handgun.
But really, it’s unwise to draw conclusions from random events. A single incident doesn’t transform a neighborhood any more than one flat tire proves that your car sucks. When we first moved to Philly, one of my wife’s coworkers was stabbed to death four blocks from our apartment in the safest neighborhood in the city. We’ll never forget it, but it was the only time something like that happened in the six years we lived there. That neighborhood is still considered safe, just as this one is. Fact is, it’s 2011. Anything can happen at any time. Any place too, judging by events in Norway.
About the gun. I have my Walter Mitty fantasies like all guys my age, but I’m also a realist. I’m not quite ready to start packing heat while walking the dog. NRA yarns aside, I can see no upside to mowing down three punks for the seven dollars I normally keep in my wallet. I can really see no upside in getting shot up while I’m fumbling to pull my piece — which is a far more likely scenario. Then they get my seven bucks and my gun. So for now, I’ll keep just keep a closer eye on who’s coming a block away, and rehearse those kill commands with my timid dog.
I guess I’ve been lucky. I’ve never been afraid to walk in any neighborhood I’ve lived in, and I’ve never been mugged. Those two things are probably related. But here’s hoping the trend continues.