Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Outrage @ Walmart

On Friday I returned a purchase to my local Wal-Mart, in my home town.  In line in front of me was a lady in her 80s, shriveled from osteoporosis and who knows what else, slumped in a motorized wheelchair and unaccompanied.  She had taken great care to look sharp:  a bright red hat, red lipstick, a dash of rouge and a touch of eye shadow, but not enough to hide her frailty.  She was waiting for the Store Manager, who finally came to the counter with a look of impatience and a scowl.

“Like the clerk told you, ma’am, you need to first call the police and  file a police report, and then we’ll take your information,” the Store Manager said.

“How am I supposed to do that?   Do you have the police’s number?”  she asked.

The manager did not let the lady use Wal Mart’s company phone.  “Call 9-1-1.” she said brusquely.

“Can you please call them for me?” the old lady asked.

“No ma’am, I cannot.  You have to be the one to talk to them,  I cannot make a report for you.”

“Here is my cell phone. I’ll talk to them. Can you at least dial for me?” the lady asked.

“Fine!” the Store Manager said with a big harumph, as if she was doing the old lady the biggest favor in the world.

Here is what happened:  as the lady was shopping in WalMart, someone stole the lady’s purse which contained her wallet with all her money, ID, credit cards, and keys.

Here is what should have happened:  the store should have gone on immediate lock-down, with each person leaving the store subject to inspection for the stolen purse and its contents.  Police should have been called immediately by the employees.  But not only did the store not care a whit about this poor lady’s situation, they treated her as if the whole episode was a huge inconvenience to them and not their problem, which considering her purse had been stolen inside their store, was nothing short of chutzpah.  A clerk or store manager should have been pulled from the sidelines (there were plenty of them standing around doing absolutely nothing) to devote all their attention to helping her, calling a family member or a cab.  The lady asked if they would help her call her bank and let them know about her missing credit cards, and they refused.  She had no way of getting home (the robber had her house keys, and she had no money for a cab); she had nothing except her cellphone, which she was too shaky to use.

And while this drama was being played out before my eyes, I thought,

This would never happen in Maine.

Yes, there is crime in Maine.  There are drunk drivers and tool thefts and in the city there is shoplifting and drug deals gone bad.  But no one in Maine – and I do mean no one – –  would steal a purse from a disabled little old lady who is all by herself in a wheelchair.  And I also guarantee you that in the unlikely event that her purse would have been stolen, the little old lady would have been surrounded by both customers, clerks and the store manager who would have ensured that she was taken care of, both emotionally, physically, and practically, and they would have made however many calls needed to be made along with an offer to drive her home.

“Where is the common decency?”  I thought out loud.  “What kind of animals prey upon utterly helpless people like this?”

But the clerk only shrugged her shoulders, her eyes and heart apathetic.

And I thought:  when people get used to things, they become complacent.  They convince themselves that it’s just how things are, that there is nothing you can do about it.

Maybe things really are like this in my hometown, but there is something we can do about it.  We can choose to not put up with it, and if we cannot change things as they are, then we can only make a change for ourselves.

I am very glad to be returning to Maine.  Because I don’t want to live in a society like my hometown’s,  where apathy and lack of decency and fear is is the new normal.    There are plenty of good people in my hometown, but oh, how the rotten eggs permeate and bring ruin upon all of us.

Quite simply, I’ve had enough.

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Safety First

Safest and Most Dangerous States, 2012

The second annual edition of the United States Peace Index, produced by Institute for Economics and Peace, measures peacefulness according to five indicators: the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, number of police employees and the availability of small arms.

Rank State
1. Maine
2. Vermont
3. New Hampshire
4. Minnesota
5. Utah
6. North Dakota
7. Washington
8. Hawaii, c
9. Rhode Island
10. Iowa
11. Nebraska
12. Massachusetts
13. Oregon
14. Connecticut
15. West Virginia
16. Idaho
17. Wyoming
18. Montana
19. Wisconsin
20. South Dakota
21. Kentucky
22. Ohio
23. Indiana
24. Pennsylvania
25. Virginia
26. Colorado
27. Kansas
28. New Jersey
29. Michigan
30. North Carolina
31. New York
32. California
33. Alaska
34. New Mexico
35. Illinois
36. Georgia
37. Oklahoma
38. Maryland
39. Delaware
40. Mississippi
41. Alabama
42. South Carolina
43. Arkansas
44. Texas
45. Missouri
46. Arizona
47. Florida
48. Nevada
49. Tennessee
50. Louisiana
Source: 2012 United States Peace Index.

Read more: Safest and Most Dangerous States, 2012 — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/us/states/most-dangerous-states.html#ixzz2K8dgXrg1

Here’s what I find interesting about the above list:  Vermont, which is the second safest state in the country, has the United States’ most liberal gun laws, summarized here by Wikipedia:

Vermont has very few gun control laws. Gun dealers are required to keep a record of all handgun sales. It is illegal to carry a gun on school property or in a courthouse. State law preempts local governments from regulating the possession, ownership, transfer, carrying, registration or licensing of firearms.[1]

The term “Vermont Carry” is widely used by gun rights advocates to refer to allowing citizens to carry a firearm concealed or openly without any sort of permit requirement, however this term is being replaced by the term “Constitutional Carry”. Vermont law does not distinguish between residents and non-residents of the state; both have the same right to carry while in Vermont.

The Vermont Constitution of 1777, dating well before the Bill of Rights to a time when Vermont was an independent republic, guarantees certain freedoms and rights to the citizens: “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State – and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”[2]

In Maine (we’re #1!) and New Hampshire, the other safest states, access to firearms and getting a concealed carry permit is pretty straightforward.  So, you might surmise, perhaps the answer to controlling violence and crime is more liberal gun laws?  Well, not so fast.  As you see on the list, states like Texas (#44), Arizona (#46) and Florida (#47) are among the most dangerous of States, yet they have similarly liberal gun control laws and “shall issue” CCW (concealed carry) gun permits.  Could it be that gun laws (restrictive OR liberal) have NOTHING TO DO with cause-and-effect in determining a State’s level of safety and violence?

If guns – their prevalence, accessibility, or lack thereof – – are not a catalyst for the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, etc., what other factors might be more reliable in determining the positive reason for an individual State’s safety and quality of life?  Is it not interesting that the 10 most dangerous States are Southern and/or are on the Mexican border?  Could specific regional, cultural, economic, racial, religious, health care (i.e. how a State addresses and guides treatment for mental illness), education level, substance abuse levels, or population density factors be primarily responsible?  I don’t have the answers, but I do think problems and rates of violence may be about a lot more than guns . . . and worth studying.