As New Orleans marks the killing of a 44-year-old father gunned down as he walked his two children to a bus stop, officials are trying a new plan to get guns off the streets. Eileen Fleming reports it’s the latest effort by Mayor Mitch Landrieu to enact what’s working in other American cities.
Mayor Landrieu and Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas are backing a program of higher bond for defendants facing illegal-weapons charges, and more electronic surveillance. Landrieu says it cut the murder rate in St. Louis by 20 percent last year. He’s asking the criminal and municipal courts to require at least $30,000 in cash bonds for illegal-weapons charges. Landrieu says the announcement came only hours after he learned of the murder of the Algiers man trying to prevent a carjacking.
“I mean my heart broke – just an incredible tragedy. There’s so much about that story that’s tragic. I mean obviously no children should ever have to witness a family member being hurt.”
Serpas says it’s vital to get guns away from criminals.
“In 2001 we know that 40 percent of the people arrested for murder had at least one prior firearms charge in their life. And we know, unfortunately, that 33 percent of the victims in 2011 had the same condition. In 2012 year to date it’s half. Fifty percent of the people we’re arrested for murder in 2012 and 50 percent of the people who have died and their family has suffered their death had an illegal-firearms charge in their background.”
Landrieu and Serpas say all sections of the city are being adequately patrolled, and there’s no immediate need for additional law enforcement backup – such as the National Guard. Landrieu says it’s more important that all residents be involved in the fight against violence across the entire city.
“That value of life and that culture of death that exists grips all of us. And as you can see right now – even though they are separate and distinct – they have a way of completely encapsulating every conversation and sucking the air out of communities when events continue to occur like this. And we have to get to the root cause of it.”
Landrieu says stemming violent crime remains his number one priority.