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Editor's Note: Guns on Broughton, take two 

THE BIG NEWS over the weekend was the double shooting on and/or near Broughton Street early Sunday morning.

A dispute at the East Broughton club Dosha, apparently between two females, became physical. Police responded.

Then, gunfire a block away. Responding officers found two gunshot victims fleeing the scene. (The injuries were non-life threatening.)

Then, more gunshots, a block away in a different direction. Officers responded to nearby Reynolds Square, near the Lucas.

Bystanders pointed out a car. The four people in it were detained, one after resisting arrest. Police still don't know for sure if any of the shooting incidents are related to the fight or to any of the other shots fired.

In all, four blocks of Broughton were cordoned off, from Habersham to Bull. It was one of the most dramatic local crime responses in the tourist area since a lone gunman escaped into the Olde Pink House in May 2012.

It was also an uncomfortable throwback to the time when another problematic club, Frozen Paradise, was on the opposite end of Broughton through 2007.

The way it went down reminded me of what a local cop tells me about the old Frozen Paradise in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

The officer recalls that when the club would let out at 3 a.m. on a weekend night, it was more or less standard operating procedure for almost every cop on duty to deploy into a de facto perimeter around the west end of Broughton for crowd control.

Sometimes, the cop says, departing clubgoers would purposely empty a clip in the air on one block to draw police there, while something else they didn't want the cops to see went on at another location.

(Controversy followed the new incarnation of Frozen Paradise to Indian Street. The man alleged to have murdered Emily Pickels and Michael Biancasino in 2012 was himself shot to death in front of the club the day before St. Patrick's Day 2013.)

Clearly, Dosha is nowhere near the level of steady public nuisance that Frozen Paradise once attained frequently on Broughton. But the reminders are there, and City Council did the right thing in immediately suspending their liquor license, something which back in the day they hesitated to do in the case of Frozen Paradise until things got completely out of hand.

Interestingly, this past weekend's incident came mere days after the Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would allow concealed carry of handguns in bars and churches.

It would be easy to point out a correlation between the shootings and Georgia's lax-and-getting-more-lax attitude toward gun ownership. But apparently there's no shortage of guns at or near bars as it is.

If it's too simple for gun rights people to insist that everybody packing heat everywhere is the only way to reduce crime, it's also too simple to blame responsible gun owners for the actions of irresponsible ones.

The vast majority of gun owners I know who might be inclined to pay the money and fill out the paperwork for a Georgia Weapons Carry License are emphatically not the type of people to throw back too many shots at the bar and start filling their rivals full of lead, Wild West-style.

Whether you're for or against gun control, I guarantee you the vast majority of idiots who shoot up street corners in Savannah are not card-carrying NRA members lobbying their Republican state legislators for increased Second Amendment rights.

(FYI, contrary to popular opinion and the Chatham County Probate Court website, there's no such thing as a "concealed weapons permit" in Georgia per se. One license covers both open and concealed carry.)

After the Broughton shootings, it didn't take long to see the the usual hysterical responses show up on Facebook:

That Savannah is "uninhabitable" due to crime. That Savannah is "the next Detroit" with "thugs" taking over the streets.

That the only solution is for everyone to strap on a pistol. Or that the only solution is to get rid of every gun, everywhere.

I've noticed this polarized overreaction is especially common whenever there's a shooting in the historic district. Any violent crime is unacceptable, but I'd urge those who are freaking out to take a deep breath and drill down to specific things local citizens have some real influence over.

Remember that Savannah/Chatham Metro Police are still dealing with corruption issues which led directly to higher crime on our streets. The departure of former Chief Lovett and other leaders fingered in the report on local police malfeasance is only the first step (though I'm shocked more public outrage didn't result).

The culture of corruption isn't completely flushed out. Until taxpayers know police leadership isn't actually contributing to local crime, street-level efforts won't be fully credible. It's up to our elected officials and their appointed city manager to make this happen.

If they can't, then it's up to the voters to install new elected officials and demand a new city manager. This can't be said enough.

Also, it must be said that until everyone from all walks of life gets equally upset whenever people get shot anywhere in Savannah, there will always be a perception that some lives are more expendable than others, and political polarization will always get in the way of uniting to address common problems.

And yes, I address this to citizens in the poorest areas most impacted by violent crime as well as those in the tonier and more touristy districts. Maybe if there were as much outrage in those neighborhoods as in the more fortunate ones that are actually rarely touched by serious crime, we might see the real collective breakthrough we so badly need.

Crime in Savannah is everyone's problem. But problems can be solved. The key is facing them directly rather than waiting for someone else to act, or hoping the problem stays in someone else's neighborhood.

cs
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About The Author

Jim Morekis

Jim Morekis

Bio:
A native Savannahian, Jim has been editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah for 15 years. The University of Georgia graduate is also a travel writer, authoring regional guides in the Moon handbook series... more

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Connect Today 11.23.2017

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