Monday, August 29, 2005

Sheltered from Reality

An estimated 20,000 - 25,000 are in the Lousiana Superdome waiting out Hurricane Katrina. As I listened to the news reports on my way home from Delaware yesterday, the news channels talked about how they were searching entrants to the Superdome and ensuring that they had neither alcohol nor weapons, and a no-smoking policy would be in place. You can make a reasonable justification for disallowing smoking or drinking in exchange for receiving shelter. The secondhand smoke could bother others or harm those with asthma and it could be said that drinking too much alcohol results in unruly behavior. But barring people from bringing weapons is not a smart idea.

What do people generally bring with them when they are evacuating their homes in preparation for a storm that may destroy their belongings? Their most valuable items. The value may be monetary, sentimental or a combination of both. Expensive jewelry, antique heirlooms, small electronics are probably all there, and all unprotected. Such a large crowd with people all carrying their prized items and no weapons is a pickpocket's paradise.

A bigger problem is the homes that have been evacuated, that contain items of little value, expensive items that were too large to transport, and unattended new and old firearms. Unattended homes containing expensive firearms are a looter's paradise. If I were a criminal (and New Orleans has plenty of them), I would certainly take the opportunity to obtain a few free firearms, that I could not otherwise legally obtain. Meanwhile, those in the Superdome who inherited or paid hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars for new and antique firearms, and obtained them legally, are deprived of them.

Those who make decisions for everyone else should think about the costs. This is an instance where someone thought 'no weapons' sounded like a good idea, envisioned a perfect society enclosed in the Superdome, and failed to take anything else into account. We may be able to seek shelter from storms, but there is no shelter from reality.

*Editor's note: a new report indicates that there may be only 10,000 in the Superdome, much fewer than previously reported.

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