Exploding the ‘Mayberry mentality’

Published 3:23 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

He was walking along a Bainbridge neighborhood street carrying a 9 mm semi-automatic Uzi. It was only a few days ago, along with last weekend reports of heightened gang activity in the inner city neighborhoods.

Why would anyone in Bainbridge need to shoulder a 9 mm Uzi small machine gun along the city streets, a weapon “designed to accurately put a lot of lead quickly into a small target?”

“To protect my family,” the carrier told the police.

Apparently the Uzi is easily purchased. If you can’t get one from a gunshop after an FBI background check, you can easily purchase one off the Internet. Or, I am sure there’s a black market where they are more easily attained.

Last week, we discussed how Bainbridge would appear 15 years from now as the city council looked into a crystal ball and explored several avenues of futuristic study. This column pointed out that the No. 1 issue confronting all of us is the rapid growth of street crime, organization of criminal gangs and rampant illegal drug activity.

Now, street gangs would be OK if they had community betterment or community service in mind, but they exist mostly for members to busy themselves after dark, and become involved in the drug trade.

With the murder of James “Cake Daddy” Christian, believed to have been gang related and a drug deal gone bad, the gangs involved themselves in retaliation last weekend, with a plethora of 911 calls last Friday and Saturday nights reporting multiple gunshots being heard around Broughton and Water streets.

If these incidents could be confined to a particular area, it might be easily governed and policed, but when fights erupt in parking lots of fast food restaurants in other parts of town, it’s time to take it serious, bigtime.

We should not have to put up with this lawlessness. And I am outraged that it is happening. I am equally outraged that little seems to be developing to curtail it. I am equally outraged that few people seem to care.

It’s just a matter of time before one of our local thugs takes it upon himself to settle a stupid little grudge because someone questioned his manhood or whatever, and the person in question gathers his 9 mm Uzi submachine gun and sprays a 40-round magazine into a school classroom, church gathering or fast food restaurant, then saying, “What a big man am I.”

You could say that scenario happening here is a long shot, but I am saying it’s not. It’s becoming more and more apparent, we hold in our community a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.

Across the country, The Wall Street Journal reports increase activity in gun sales. Reasons are two fold: One, buyers report the need for increased personal protection and safety for their families, and two, since it is rumored that the Obama administration may limit gun sales on attack weapons, investors believe those weapons will become scarce and increase in value. Buying those type guns and holding them for future resale, is a better investment today than investing in the stock market or buying low interest bank CDs, they believe.

Meanwhile, the FBI has seen a 27 percent increase in background checks, nearly 4 million, required before the purchase of a gun.

It’s been an ongoing problem of guns in the wrong hands, eliciting carnage and mayhem on innocent bystanders. These incidents are in the news almost every day. It’s commonplace.

The Second Amendment guarantees us the right to bear arms, and nothing should deter from allowing that basic constitutional right.

Yet we have to come to grips with ways to assure our fundamental rights are allowed in relation to what’s happening in the streets and in restaurant parking lots.

Until now, we have been existing here in a “Mayberry mentality”—we’re nice and quiet, and we all know it won’t happen here.”

Yeah, right.