OUR OPINION: Number of indictments for shooting symptomatic of larger issue

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 23, 2022

We’re halfway through reporting indictments for the Warren County Grand Jury’s August session, and something that stands out in the reports is the number of shooting incidents reported.

While there were thankfully only two murder indictments this term, there were far more instances when people were shooting at one another or at their homes or vehicles. If discharging a firearm is illegal in the city limits, one would posit to think this shouldn’t be happening.

Yet, in many parts of town, one can stand outside their home and hear a sprinkling of gunfire once it gets dark outside. Four or five shots to the east, six or seven to the west — Vicksburg’s not turning into a lawless land, but at what point do we need to evaluate the efficacy of the penalty for gun violence in our city?

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According to city ordinances, the penalty for discharging a firearm in city limits is 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, along with a curfew and possibly an ankle bracelet — a veritable slap on the wrist for those who are intent on getting out of jail and doing it all over again.

Perhaps the city ordinance could be interpreted as “Here’s the paltry consequence for not having good enough aim to inflict deadly force.”

As long as you don’t hit someone, what is the worst that could happen? Are all the gunshots heard in the city on any given night simply “warning shots”?

Perhaps, once the city’s new cameras acquired through Project NOLA are installed, the shooting incidents will come to a halt — or at least those responsible will be taken off the streets faster and for a longer period of time.

Vicksburgers shouldn’t have to live in fear that a rogue bullet might hit their vehicle or their home — or even worse, themselves or a loved one.

Responsible gun owners don’t discharge their weapons for the thrill of it. Irresponsible gun owners would do well to take a page from that book.