Editor’s Notebook: Sometimes they shoot

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Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, in red, and the rest of council talk about a shooting without mentioning guns.

by Brian Clarey

One of the things we learned at Monday night’s South End stakeholder meeting at Gibb’s Hundred Brewing is that the Lotus Lounge probably had nothing to do with Friday night’s gunfight on South Elm Street in downtown Greensboro.

Lotus co-owner Chris McGregory, with a couple managers and his head of security in tow, stood at the rear of Gibbs and explained that, contrary to public perception, the shooters weren’t even in Lotus that night. When the bullets started coming, the club was empty.

But it wasn’t a big night for listening, though hearing the concerns of residents and business owners was one of the stated purposes of the meeting. It was a night for optics as Mayor Nancy Vaughan gave some reassuring words and councilmembers Jamal Fox and Sharon Hightower reiterated that thing about the listening. It was a night for political grandstanding as Councilman Zack Matheny brought out his nightclub-violence outrage act, one we first saw in November 2010 when, after a similar shooting outside the N Club, he seized the moment to push downtown nightlife ordinances and “zero tolerance” for “quality-of-life infractions.”

Remember, there’s an election coming up next year.

Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann, who owns property on the block, said little except that the ABC Board for which she is a liaison takes these incidents “very seriously.”

And the neighbors and business owners had a chance to get their say, which is what these things are all about.

Interesting, though, that during the course of the whole thing, no one mentioned guns. Because that’s the problem. You can’t have a gunfight without them.

No one mentioned them because there’s not a damn thing any of us can do about the gun problem in this country, and the swirl of societal ills that creates young men who shoot their guns at each other on public streets after the clubs let out. How can a city council effectively address such a thing?

More lighting? Street cameras? An army of cops? They might help someone get elected, but none of these things will stop a gunfight.

At this point, nothing will.

We’ve got big, bustling cities here, with lots of people in them doing lots of different things.

And sometimes they shoot.