Bullets are a problem in New Orleans. Even though the murder rate dropped slightly in 2012 from 2011, New Orleans streets are among the deadliest in the United States. And in the wake of the tragic school killings in Newtown, CT, it should be pointed out that many of the victims continue to be the minors.
When it comes to New Years Eve, however, police look to curb celebratory gunfire, as well as handgun violence. Firing handguns into the air is a longstanding New Orleans tradition. A 12- year old Louis Armstrong was arrested in 1913 for firing his stepfather’s gun into the air on New Year’s Eve. He was sent to the Colored Waif’s Home where he learned to play the trumpet and the rest, as they say, is history.
But, firing guns into the air is not all fun and games. Bullets fired into air must come down and often with dangerous consequences. Many have been wounded by such celebrations and as recently as 1994 a tourist from Boston was killed by a falling bullet. Since then, the NOPD has cracked down on the practice. Arrests for celebratory gunfire have fallen in recent years; presumably, so has the practice.
This year, the NOPD announced that it was on the look-out for drunk drivers, illegal fireworks, and bullets fired into the air. As of this evening, New Year’s night, I can find no reports of any injuries resulting from guns fired into the air in New Orleans. Needless to say, I hope it stays that way, but will continue to wait and see if there are any arrests for such behavior.