Granny’s Got a Gun

NEW ORLEANS – Sixty-four-year-old Vivian Westerman rode out Hurricane Katrina in her 19th-century house. So terrible was the experience that she wanted two things before the 2006 season arrived: a backup power source and a gun. “I got a 6,000-watt generator and the cutest little Smith & Wesson, snub-nose .38 you ever saw,” she boasted. “I’ve never been more confident.” People across New Orleans are arming themselves — not only against the possibility of another storm bringing anarchy, but against the violence that has engulfed the metropolitan area in the 19 months since Katrina, making New Orleans the nation’s murder capital.

The number of permits issued to carry concealed weapons is running twice as high as it was before Katrina — this, in a city with only about half its pre-storm population of around 450,000. Attendance at firearms classes and hours logged at shooting ranges also are up, according to the gun industry.

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Some people are losing faith in the system to protect them.

Earnest Johnson, a 37-year-old chef who lives in Kenner, bought his first gun recently and visits a shooting range regularly. “Things are way worse than they used to be,” he said. “You have to do something to protect yourself.”

Kevin Cato, a 41-year-old contractor, bought a .45-caliber handgun for protection when he is working in some of the city’s still-deserted areas. “But it’s not much safer at home,” Cato said. “The police chased a guy through my yard one time with their guns out.”


It’s too bad that people are having to relearn this lesson again, but at least they are learning it and arming themselves. The government isn’t able to protect you. The only way to have the government guarantee your safety from criminals is to have a police officer in every home. Somehow I don’t think that’s a wise solution.

In any case, I think I’ll stop here because a picture is worth a thousand words, and I’d like to save myself the work:

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Westerman, an artist who lives in the city’s Algiers neighborhood, is prepared to use deadly force.

“I’m a marksman now. I know what I’m doing,” she said. “There are a lot of us. The girl next door is a crack shot.”

A pack, not a herd.

  • Nick M.

    Same thing happened in AZ because of the serial killers and serial rapist. Enrollment is up in CCW classes all over the state. I’ve waited about an hour a couple of times at the range to get a lane. That was at an indoor pistol range, I’ve heard stories of outdoor ranges with 3 hr wait times. Cops are good for investigating crimes after they occur. If they want more prevention, arm the populace, and stop treating citizens like enemy combatants.


  • Brad Warbiany


    At some point, we need to go shooting. I’m going to try to try to get time for a visit later this fall…

  • mike

    I was pretty excited to head out last week to my friend’s place to do some shooting. I’ve shot rifles more than a few times (although this was the first time with an AR), shotguns more times than I can count between hunting and shooting trap, but I had never shot pistols before.

    Friggin’ AWESOME. Most fun I’ve had in a long time. Brad, I can’t emphasize enough how sweet shooting is. Pistols, rifles, even shotguns…it’s all really fun. If you swing through Iowa or Nebraska, we should go.

    “Cops are good for investigating crimes after they occur. If they want more prevention, arm the populace, and stop treating citizens like enemy combatants.”

    Right on, Nick.

  • James Sullivan

    I think it is about time that people realize they are responsible for their own safety. The police will not do a thing until AFTER the crime occurs. That does you a lot of good, when you are laying there dead on the floor. And in the case of New Orleans, all the police tried to do was TAKE AWAY the only peotection the people had by confiscating all the guns. I’m sorry, but when it comes to my life, oe the lives of my loved ones, I will shoot first and worry about the consequevces afterward. A gunowner in Virginia.

  • Walter F. Wilson

    it’s time that Americans wake up and inploy the frist ammenment. Stop goverment from trying to take a way our rights by saying it for the our oun good. The day they try to take mine ( old native saying ) a good day to die. You ever see one of them abide by the same law ( NO )

  • mitch kuhlmann

    while i think everyone should own and carry a gun i think in most cases they wont have the will to use it to protect themselves. the only real way to protect the citizens is to take the shackles off the police. let them use racial profiling if needed and take some of the rigidity out of what are defined as “” civil liberties””. if , for instance, you see someone wearing a hoodie pulled down over thier eyes in 90 degree weather thats either an idiot or someone up to no good. i’ll bet they’re not idiots.