by Brian Clarey
We’ve been talking a lot about nightlife violence in our cities after a shooting in downtown Greensboro left one person dead and others injured. They’ve put up the klieg lights and ordered the cameras, and the zone will be flooded with uniformed cops. People will feel better about it, which is the point. But there’s only so much a city council can do about violence, particularly gun violence. It’s pretty easy to get a gun in North Carolina, and woe unto any politician who suggests that we curtail anyone’s Second Amendment rights. But the fact is that we as a nation are flooded with firearms, and it’s all more or less perfectly legal.
2. The dump
The state also imposes lots of restrictions on places where people sell alcohol — strangely enough, one of them isn’t that people can’t bring guns into places that serve booze. Bar owners have to buy their product from the state. A rarely enforced “private club” law is intended to restrict the customers a liquor bar can serve with a three-day waiting period for membership. And the state dictates the hours in which this product can be sold, so every minute counts. That’s why you’ll never convince a club owner to cut off liquor sales before the officially sanctioned time of 2 a.m. Sometimes a bar can sell more alcohol in the last 45 minutes than it can in the previous two hours. Hence the dump, which is what downtowners call the flood of clubgoers that hit the streets after last call every weekend morning.
3. Alcohol and dumbassery
They don’t mix, yet any dumbass of legal age can walk into a bar and buy enough drinks to become intoxicated and then act upon his dumbass urges. Again, this is all perfectly legal. And even if we were to somehow prevent dumbasses from drinking in bars, most of them would go out of business.
4. Life in the big city
Call it the Woodstock Principle: You put enough people into a given area for a long enough time, sooner or later some of them are gonna kill each other. The good news is we have a fairly safe city. Greensboro’s murder rate ranks 41 in US cities with more than 250,000 people, with a murder rate of 7.6 for every 100,000 people in 2012, right between Los Angeles, with 7.8, and Albuquerque, NM with 7.4. Detroit, the US city with the highest murder rate in 2012, had 54.6 murders per 100,000 citizens, which means you are almost eight times more likely to be murdered in downtown Detroit than in Downtown Greensboro.