THE GUN REPORT: A TALE OF TWO CITIES

November 12, 2015

By Sharon Litwin

  Sharon Litwin (photo by Jason Kruppa)

Sharon Litwin (photo by Jason Kruppa)

I've been spending a lot of time in Chicago this year. And, while the Windy City is miles away from the Big Easy, these two cities have much in common. Both are filled with friendly folk, have great music and increasingly creative and outstanding restaurants.

Sadly, though, we share one other commonality that crops up in both places: the logo we see at the beginning of too many 10 o’ clock newscasts:

BREAKING NEWS

In my experience, Breaking News is hardly ever about the newest Nobel Prize winner or the winner of the James Beard Award for fine dining. It’s almost always about the latest heinous and brutal instance of gun violence. Yet, in both cities, even the most deadly, most heartbreaking act does not seem to raise the collective ire of either’s larger community.

We are confronted in both places by our mayors’ anguished responses and inability to offer solutions; by police departments’ lack of connection to their communities; to the seemingly inevitable continuation of urban warfare.

Truth is, it’s not just Chicago and New Orleans, although both have the dishonorable distinction of having some of the highest levels of gun violence in the United States, with nine killed and 47 wounded over one weekend alone (this past July 4th) in Chicago.

Rising levels of gun violence are occurring in cities across America, among them Baltimore, Detroit, Gary and St. Louis. In New Orleans, the number of murders so far this year, as of this writing, is 137, meaning a high likelihood that the year-end number will probably surpass the 150 murders in all of 2014.

What does this say about where we live? Well, lots of people have lots of opinions. But it’s safe to say that hardly one among us could be happy with this data. I know I’m not. I’ve watched too many generations of kids lost to the battlefields of the bullet.

Still, after living in this Crescent City for more decades than I care to admit, the one thing I know is that our Big Easy is an amazing, creative and resilient place. You can’t drown us, shoot us, or tell us to leave. We’re not going. But I’ve also observed that we just seem to be paralyzed into inaction when it comes to this one seemingly intractable problem.

We always say that New Orleans is unique, that there is no place like it. Well, that’s because there is no place like New Orleans. Our varied communities – and we are many – have co-existed for many, many decades. We have not done this as well as we could. But we do it better than most places. So I know we can be a leader in the nation if we choose to be.

Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, recognized this, as reported in a 2013 Washington Post story about his belief that North America can be broken into 11 separate nation-states, each with a dominant culture.

One of the 11 is what he calls it New France, the former French colonies around New Orleans and Quebec, and, according to Woodard, it tends toward consensus and egalitarianism. He writes that its residents are “among the most liberal on the continent, with unusually tolerant attitudes toward gays and people of all races and a ready acceptance of government involvement in the economy.”

Well, OK. But what will it take for our southern version of New France to be the leader in the reduction of urban warfare?

First we have to agree we’ve had enough mayhem.

Enough.

We need to connect the dots -- those fractured, scattered, but wonderful dots that are the many good people working in our community, too many of them in isolation. We need to map our assets, play to our successes and jettison those great-sounding, but less productive ventures.

We need everyone at the table to figure it out – everyone from gurus to gang bangers, millenials to ministers, cops to corporates, artists to accountants, suits to shrinks.

We need to leave our egos at the door and assume the mindset that we can get anything done if we don’t care who gets the credit.

No one person has the answer. And, so it seems, no one community. So, let’s be the first. And let’s start already. One thing’s for sure: It’s up to us. If we learned one thing from Hurricane Katrina, it’s that the cavalry isn’t coming.

Send your thoughtful comments and ideas to gunreport@nolavie.com. But, please, no rants. It doesn’t help.

The Gun Report is a series of conversations about gun safety in New Orleans sponsored by NolaVie and 91%, John Richie's upcoming documentary about background checks for gun purchasers. We want you to join the conversation with personal anecdotes and commentary. Email us at gunreport@nolavie.com.


Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie. Email her at sharon@nolavie.com.

THE GUN REPORT: ONE WOMAN'S STORY

November 11, 2015

By Mary Richard

 Writer Mary Richard

Writer Mary Richard

Sunday nights, I love to unravel the intricacies of Masterpiece Mystery, but am less enthralled by unsolved crimes closer to home. BBC’s criminal investigations benefit from myriad resources compared to the decimated police protection on which I depend.

It has been more than six months since I returned home to find a teenager rummaging through my possessions, pulling stockings and slips from dresser drawers, presumably in search of cash or jewelry. I made my way all the way through the house before he presented himself, hands in hip pockets and a sly smile on his face. My steel hedge clippers had been used to shatter triple-pane glass and allow him to climb into my bedroom.

In the ensuing weeks, I’ve turned over this event in my mind. Not only did I consider how close I had come to my own mortality, but the degree of danger this miscreant risked for chump change -- a broken iPod and a Samsung smartphone. There was a moment in my starkly lit kitchen, when we stood face-to-face, both realizing I could recognize him in a lineup. After a short struggle, when I squirmed out of his grip and landed a swift kick, he decided it might be easier just to take my handbag and leave. Police arrived 15 minutes later. It was the second time in a month I’d called them.

In numerous conversations since, I’ve learned that almost every New Orleans resident has experienced having a gun held to his or her head. When I tell women I fought back, they exclaim, “You go, girl!” Men ask, "Why not just surrender the bag?" Guys tend to forget about rape. The intruder had gotten me into a headlock, dragging me screaming toward the bathroom where he kicked a hole in the door. I am now trying to put the episode behind me, repairing the door, the ripped window shades, smashed window and shaky sense of security.

In New Orleans these days, alarm companies are experiencing record calls. Adoptions of large dogs are brisk. Throngs of Uptown residents wrangle handguns at the St. Bernard shooting range. The police department is desperate to hire and train enough recruits. Meanwhile, the frivolity of Mardi Gras will march on.

What kind of society do we live in? Dozens of these young men circulate our neighborhoods without hope or guidance that might prevent them from preying on others. Possibly suspended from high school for bad behavior, they roam the streets at night acting out worse deeds. My stolen phone records show calls and text messages at 10- and 15-minute intervals throughout the night.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu touts a drop in the murder rate and his successes with his violence-reduction plan, Nola for Life. But my neighborhood, greatly compromised by the reduction in police protection, is not a bad-enough “hot spot” to get any attention at all. We residents, some of whom have been twice burglarized, must fortify ourselves.

Despite this alarming event, I’ve recommitted to my neighborhood because -- as many have said -- the same thing could happen anywhere in New Orleans. I’ve now got an expensive security system, padlocked gates, motion-activated security lights and a watchdog.

Before this uptick in juvenile crime, I might have ventured outside at night to listen to the frogs and cicadas, call in my cat or even walk up to the top of the levee to admire the lights on the Crescent City Connection. But no more. I am too cautious to attend a night event without a friend to follow me home and watch as I enter. My home has become both my sanctuary and my prison.

But battening down the hatches is not a long-term solution. Like fighting ebola, we can’t hide inside our homes to avoid the disease, because it lurks everywhere around us. We must all assume some personal risk and also devote the financial city resources to make this a healthy society where everyone has educational and economic opportunities.

Otherwise, the only way the disadvantaged believe they can ever have something is by violently taking it from someone else.

The Gun Report is a series of conversations about gun safety in New Orleans sponsored by NolaVie and 91%, John Richie's upcoming documentary about background checks for gun purchasers. We want you to join the conversation with personal anecdotes and commentary. Email us at gunreport@nolavie.com.

Mary Rickard has been a regular contributor to the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the New Orleans Advocate, as well as newspapers and wire services in other locales. Feel free to send her comments or critiques atmary.rickard@sbcglobal.net.

THE GUN REPORT: A JUDGE RENDERS HIS OPINION

November 10, 2015

By John Richie

  Judge Calvin Johnson

Judge Calvin Johnson

Judge Calvin Johnson retired in 2008 after 17 years on the bench at the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. He recently sat down with filmmaker John Ritchie for The Gun Report.

What do you think about our federal gun laws?

Federal gun laws are so lacking in terms of creating a way to keep us safe – the notion that under the federal law all Americans are not required to actually get a permit for a gun, to go through a real background check for that gun, to have a waiting period before they can acquire a gun, to go through some training before they can acquire a gun, to actually be able to state in some clear terms why is it that you have to have a gun.

I know that some of that for America is Draconian. But what I just described exists in most of the countries we associate with. So when we say that the worst of us can with ease acquire a gun, we have created in our society the havoc we see in our streets, and we have created it by lack of law, lack of rule.

Do you own a gun?

I own an 1880 Remington 44-caliber rifle. It was my grandfather’s gun. There are some stories about him being a Buffalo Soldier and that’s how he got the gun. It is a military issued weapon. So yes, I do own a gun. It’s under glass in my house and it has the info I just gave you about it attached to it.

What is your relationship with guns?

My father owned lots of guns. My father owned rifles, handguns, six-shooters. Keep in mind my father was born in 1902. However, my father stopped hunting in the early ‘50s, when he was in his early 50s, and he stopped because of an accident. He shot his best friend thru the neck in a hunting accident. So he never went hunting again. He never took his kids hunting. I never went hunting with my father. He got rid of all those guns I talked about. He saved that one, his father’s gun, the only one he kept and he gave that gun to me. So I never went hunting. I never did.

What do you think about gun control laws?

I just think we ought to control guns. There are so many ways we have correlated the data as regards guns and violence and no guns and no violence. Those states with weak gun laws are states with higher amounts of gun violence. Then those states with stronger gun laws have less gun violence. Those things are absolutely correct in terms of correlation. So if we are going to reduce in Louisiana, which is one of the top five states in terms of gun violence, then we need to have some gun control. Otherwise we’re going to continue having what we have.

We’ve allowed those with a great interest in gun ownership to define the narrative. We’ve allowed them to control the entirety of the conversation and those who disagree find themselves cowering in a corner.

What happens if we don’t start doing a better job of this?

We continue seeing what we’re seeing, the gun violence that we see. If you couldn’t go to these gun shows and couldn’t do the sort of purchasing you do at these gun shows, if we have real records, nationally maintained, then if that gun is used in a violent case we know who purchased that gun.

So we can start to limit the amount of violent behavior that comes from this by simply making it controllable in terms of who actually has guns. There are some guns that there is no value for other than blowing up buildings or blowing up cars. For those who argue I want to be able to hunt, OK, all well and good. But you don’t need the equivalent of a machine gun to do that with. There are some kinds of guns that should be outlawed period.

Who can buy a gun, who can have a gun … we ought to know. With some certainty.

Has the justice system changed in terms of its perception of guns?

If you go back in time, the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, we were not nearly as fixated on any of this as we are today.

In your experience in the criminal justice system, did you see that gun ownership escalated violence?

Sure. Absolutely, in terms of domestic violence, where you don’t have the involvement of a firearm, there’s a greater likelihood that neither individual in that piece will end up dead. If there is a firearm involved, then you can see exponentially you increase the likelihood that one is going to end up dead. The number of instances of cases today that come through Criminal District Court where one of the persons involved was armed, and the other shot – not necessarily killed – the number of instances are legion.

If you look at people who may be a step or two away from that break, that psychotic break that sometimes leads to this kind of violent episode, if they don’t have the gun, you can’t have the result that comes with the gun. I just can’t understand what keeps us as a society from recognizing this and from doing something about it. I just can’t understand.

When you think in terms of the number of people who accidentally die because of guns -- the 3-year-old who shoots his sister, the 4-year-old who shoots his mother, the 8-year-old who shoots his grandfather, all accidentally, playing with guns – it happens over and over again. If there was a requirement of a gunlock, then that child could not do that.

How many people who came before you in court would not have passed a background check for a gun?

Difficult to say. We know that certain convicted felons in Louisiana cannot own a firearm. But their friend, their daddy, their sister, their brother can purchase a gun. Of course, they’re breaking the law being in possession of a gun. But the friend or girlfriend are arguably breaking the law, too.

What should we do?

Yes, we have a right to own a gun. But that right can be determined by government, just like we can control who can drive a car. And we do it because we know that a car is a dangerous weapon. We should do the same kind of thing with guns. Yes, you can own a car, but you’ve got to do these things first. Yes, you can own a gun, but you’ve got to do these things first. There’s nothing wrong with that. And that conforms to the Second Amendment, to our Constitutional right to own a gun.

We need to forthwith put gun control on our agenda in this country and we need to have it said and done so that we can truly say that we have become an adult – an adult – society.

The Gun Report is a series of conversations about gun safety in New Orleans sponsored by NolaVie and 91%, John Richie's upcoming documentary about background checks for gun purchasers. We want you to join the conversation with personal anecdotes and commentary. Email us at gunreport@nolavie.com.

THE GUN REPORT: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EXPORT TANIA TETLOW

November 6, 2015

By Renée Peck

Tania Tetlow is a Tulane law professor specializing in domestic violence and violence against women generally. She's from new Orleans, and has been at Tulane for the past decade. Before that, she was a federal prosecutor. We sat down this summer to talk to her about what she does and its relationship to gun violence in the city.

What is your association with guns?

As a federal prosecutor I worked on a lot of cases of felons in possession of guns. We tried to really focus on the defendants who had the longest rap sheets and whom we thought the most dangerous to the world. And then as someone running a domestic violence clinic, guns just came up all the time in our cases. Our clients would describe to us that their husbands collected guns, that they would sometimes point those guns at them and threaten to kill them, but often more subtle things like clean them in front of the family in ways that were threatening. What we know statistically is that ownership of or access to a gun is one of the big indicators of whether you are going to die in a domestic violence situation.

Where do domestic violence and the gun conversation intersect?

The danger of the violence escalating to the point of murder is made a lot worse when somebody has the ability to access a gun. It just makes it much quicker and easier. I think that’s generally true in this country. We have lots of issues with violence, but the thing that gives us this extraordinary murder rate is because we have so many guns available to so many people. So what might be a crime of passion just takes half a second and a pull of the finger.

Domestic violence is less about the level of violence and more about the level of control. It's using violence as a method to have utter power over another human being and often their children. As such, we we worry less about how violence is being used than about  how strict and total the control is. That’s what predicts murder.

Do you have a gun?

I do have a gun. When a defendant I was prosecuting threatened to have me killed and had a hit put out on me, the FBI lent me a gun, which did not make me feel much safer. I have mixed feelings about it.

Have you ever experienced violence in New Orleans?

Growing up in this city I’ve had people close to me arm-robbed, raped at gunpoint, murdered. It is part of this city and it is something that is a burden shared much more widely here becausewe live so close together in ways that makes people understand and care about it. Because it does not just happen to poor people.

You’ve lived in Boston and other cities. Is New Orleans different in terms of violence?

New Orleans is different in that our level of murder is extreme.... What is atypical in New Orleans is the level of disorganized violence. The level of people just shooting each other because someone looked at them funny or they were arguing over something small. That kind of irrational violence is much higher here than in other parts of the country.

Why?

I think violence begets violence. We have kids who are exposed to unbelievable rates of violence out on the street in front of their homes, but also -- and this is the part that gets ignored -- unbelievable rates of violence within their homes. So there are not too many teenagers shooting each other on corners who are not growing up in homes where they’re watching their mamas get beaten up by daddy or mama’s boyfriend and not also getting hit themselves. When they hit the corner of zero tolerance of violence on the street, then we rage about that. But what these kids know is that they grow up in homes where no one seems to care about the violence that they witness and experience almost daily, and that part of the story really gets ignored.

How extensive is domestic violence in New Orleans?

Domestic violence is hidden and underreported. What we know nationally is that one out of four women in the U.S. will get beaten in her lifetime by a partner. Louisiana has often been the No. 1 state for women murdered by men, and has often been the No. 1 state for children murdered as well..

Why is domestic violence so prevalent?

In our custody laws and practices we tend to not consider family violence the way that we should. We are so aspirationally excited about encouraging fathers to participate, which we absolutely need to and should do; but we can’t do that and lower the standards so low that even if they’re violent thug, we encourage them to get involved in their kids' lives.

Batterers tend to fight for custody for all the wrong reasons and they fight for custody more often than good nonviolent fathers do. And they tend to win custody more often than good non-violent fathers do. So there are a lot of aspects of this that are hidden of why people end up stuck. If you can escape with the clothes on your back so be it, but if you have to leave behind a hostage… In the cycle of family violence, that’s really the battle. It’s very hard with a kid who’s grown up witnessing or experiencing it – and the psychological seems to be exactly the same regardless – it’s very hard to undo that damage later in life.

What we know is that witnessing violence, witnessing domestic violence in the home in particular, literally changes the wiring of the brain in ways that may be permanent, and are certainly pretty well ingrained by early childhood. It also literally changes the structure of DNA, such that these kids are going to grow up with shorter life expectancies, more prone to chronic illness. It does damage in way that we are only beginning to understand biologically and psychologically. So we have to protect those kids.

Does this violence beget violence later in life?

It is what is fueling all the other violent crime that we have on the street. Kids who grow up with violence aren’t just beating their own wife and kid in ways that the world doesn’t seem to much care about, but they’re also hurting people out on the street. And that’s when we start to care. But until we care and back up that care to when they were a kid cowering in the corner trying to protect their mother, we’re never going to solve this problem. And when you add to the mix access to guns, you make that problem not just about this extraordinary widespread violence, you make it a problem of murder,

Are we doing anything to stop this problem?

No.

Is it a matter of public will?

I think the vast majority of people absolutely want to change how this works. And we’re not talking about getting to the point of threatening people’s ability to hunt or have guns for self-protection. We’re talking about just basic levels of you don’t let people have extraordinary assault rifles or silencers or crazy cop-killing bullets. The obvious stuff, right? The clear obvious low-hanging fruit that the vast majority of people want to do and somehow our structure of government is such that it’s not happening.

What do you think about current gun control laws?

I have a husband who is British and he just can’t even fathom how loose that they are and how prevalent guns are. Right now there is not much of any gun control. What we do restrict is that if you’re a felon you can’t have a gun. If you have a domestic violence order against you or a misdemeanor domestic violance conviction, you can’t have a gun. But that’s a law that is really not enforced much because it’s only federal. Louisiana just passed a parallel state law, so we’ll see how that goes. But in general at this point we have so many guns and so much ammunition floating out there that it's hard to imagine how we’d ever get it back.

Is there a way to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people?

We have so many of them it would be like keeping chocolate out of the hands of the wrong people. It’s so prevalent, it's hard for me to imagine, but the fact that we’re not even trying is, to me, horrific.

How do you feel about background checks for gun purchasers?

We need to do that. ATF right now has to go back when they find that somebody has lied on their form and try to collect that gun. As opposed to just asking people to wait. I cannot imagine the situation where you legitimately have to be in a rush to get a gun. That’s usually not a very good sign.

We have this gaping loophole of the gun shows. It’s so easy to buy a gun privately. If you buy your shotgun at WalMart, you have to fill out the form. All of the rest of the gun trade is happening absolutely on the side.

What needs to change?

There are not many ways the criminal justice system can be proactive. It can’t fix the economy; it can’t fix the school systems. But what it can do is prioritize family violence, because that is the root of all other violence. So if you start protecting mothers and children from violence in the home, you have both prioritized that violent crime, but also stopped another generation of violent criminals from being raised in that abuse. If we paid attention to that in the ways that we prioritize, for example, drugs, if we pour as much resources into that, if it became the thing we care most about, then we could have this double impact of protecting kids and also protecting these future generations of victims from kids who grow up to be violent in predictable ways, given what they’ve experienced.

What are some practical steps to making that happen?

In a world where we incarcerate people for non-violent crimes, if we instead actually put people in jail for beating their family members and made that a priority, both as a way to make that stop and keep their victims safe, but also as a signal to the world that we do care about this, then we could have the kind of cultural shift we need. In the same way that, with drunk driving, we sent the message that you could really go to prison for drunk driving, that it was a crime we were going to take seriously. That accomplished this extraordinary change in our attitudes.

In our society, we don’t much care about family violence and we are very lenient with accepting unbelievable numbers of guns. And that’s a wicked combination.

The Gun Report is a series of conversations about gun safety in New Orleans sponsored by NolaVie and 91%, John Richie's upcoming documentary about background checks for gun purchasers. We want you to join the conversation with personal anecdotes and commentary. Email us at gunreport@nolavie.com.


Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at renee@nolavie.com.

THE GUN REPORT: A NEW ORLEANS FILMMAKER TALKS TO AMERICANS ABOUT GUNS

November 5, 2015

By Renée Peck

  Filmmaker John Richie's next project will focus on the 91 percent of Americans who say they favor background checks for gun ownership.

Filmmaker John Richie's next project will focus on the 91 percent of Americans who say they favor background checks for gun ownership.

New Orleans filmmaker John Richie has been traveling the country, talking to people about gun safety for his upcoming documentary 91%, about background checks for gun purchasers.

Who are you talking to and how did you find them?

The people I’ve been talking to are people who have been affected by shootings, and the guns involved were gotten without a background check.

When I was doing research for this film I’d go to activist events in D.C. and California and meet people who have become active in lobbying for better gun laws. I got to talking to different people and more than half of the people at these events have been directly involved in mass shootings.

You’d meet people and find people who had very compelling stories and there was something moving about the fact that the event that affected their lives had gotten them to go all the way to D.C. to really try to get better gun laws passed.

What is the film’s focus?

One of the things we wanted to do was really test this statistic, this 91 percent who believe in background checks. If you were to look at the way the issue is portrayed in the media, you would think people are really divided on this issue.

One of the things that was really interesting about interviewing the NRA members was that whenever I’d ask if I could interview them, they’d say sure, but you probably won’t like what I have to say. We ended up interviewing about 13 people and 11 were on the same page that I’m on. I do believe in your Second Amendment right to own a gun, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t regulate guns to make sure people don’t use one in a way that would harm other people.

Why don’t people want to talk about this?

It’s a very emotional issue for a lot of people. Even talking about the idea that maybe we need to regulate guns better will drive some people to where they don’t want to have the conversation at all.

Here we are in the United States and there are just as many guns on the streets as there are people. Even people who are concerned about their rights to own guns agree that there needs to be some gun regulation. That people with a proven history of violence, people that are incompetent, should not be able to own guns. This is a point we agree on. This is where we need to be leading the conversation … much more into the public health area.

The problem with the way the law stands now is that there are background checks on gun sales at places like a sporting goods store, but there’s not one person to person. If I had a gun I could sell you that gun without ever asking for an ID or looking into your history.

Richie talked to people involved in half a dozen mass shootings, including parents and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But he says that perhaps the most moving person he talked to was a mom in Salt Lake City named Carolyn Tuft.

Her and her daughter went to buy Valentine Day cards at a mall, and a young man that was 17 – obviously not old enough to purchase a gun – came in shooting. He killed 6 people including Carolyn’s daughter. … She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and she’s slowly dying of lead poisoning (of the gunshot pellets that cannot be removed).

Closer to home, Richie talked to social aid and pleasure club president Ed Buckner and journalist Debra Cotton about the 2012 Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans, in which 19 people were wounded.

The saddest thing about that was that ‘s one of our traditions, and our celebration of Mother’s Day, and the parade was interrupted by two young men who shot up the crowd. They shot 19 people …… These two young men who had prior felonies had no problems getting their hands on guns. It’s one of many examples in the film of people getting guns through these loopholes.

Louisiana has some of the most lax laws. I believe we are 48th in gun violence – we might even be more than that. You can look at states that have strong strict gun prevention laws and their amount of shootings has been reduced greatly, and then there are states like ours that not only have relaxed gun laws but have passed legislation that makes it easier to get guns and we continue to be at the very top of states where you have firearm injury and fatality.

So it’s a matter of public safety?

Your right to have a gun with no regulation whatsoever should not trump my right to be able to walk along my streets or worry about my kids as far as growing up and getting shot. At a certain point there has to be a certain amount of give and take on this issue. I don’t know any gun violence prevention advocate who’s talking about banning guns. But that’s the narrative that groups like the NRA have created. They won’t give an inch for the betterment of our public safety and there’s something very wrong with that.

What can we do to get universal background checks?

Obviously, there’s the whole point of going out and voting. The only way that you can make Congress start listening to people instead of lobbyists is to hold Congress accountable. Voter turnout for the past several decades has been so low and that’s what gives power to the lobbyists.

One of the misnomers is that this makes it hard for law-abiding citizens to get guns. The reality is that a common background check takes less than 30 minutes…. It’s actually very easy still, with a background check system, to get a gun as long as you’re a law-abiding, competent person. 

Do you have a gun?

I do. I have a 16-gauge shotgun that I use for duck hunting… If you grew up in north La there’s a great probability that you do have a firearm. This issue has never been to me about banning guns. It has always been a public health issue.

Want to see the movie? There will be a free test screening of 91%: A Documentary About Guns in America, sponsored by the the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, Moms Demand Action and the National Council of Jewish Women, at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, at Cafe Istanbul, 2372 St. Claude Avenue. A discussion and question period with filmmaker John Richie will follow.

The Gun Report is a series of conversations about gun safety in New Orleans sponsored by NolaVie and 91%, John Richie's upcoming documentary about background checks for gun purchasers. We want you to join the conversation with personal anecdotes and commentary. Email us at gunreport@nolavie.com.



Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at renee@nolavie.com.

INTRODUCTION TO THE GUN REPORT, A NEW SERIES FROM NOLAVIE AND 91%

The Gun Report is a series of conversations about gun safety in New Orleans sponsored by NolaVie and 91%, John Richie's upcoming documentary about background checks for gun purchasers. We want you to join the conversation with personal anecdotes and commentary. Email us at gunreport@nolavie.com.