Is Albuquerque that dangerous?
In October, The Free Lance-Star out of Fredericksburg, Va., ran an op-ed piece with the headline, "In New Mexico, season's always open for man, car and chopper." The writer, who lives in a rural area, describes a phone conversation with a friend who lives in Albuquerque during which the resident who supposedly lives in a good neighborhood hears a semi-automatic weapon being fired in the near distance. When he hears that "distinct popping noise" again he calls the police. The writer's friend returns to the phone and explains that our local gunfire situation is so bad that residents no longer pay attention to it.
"Welcome to open borders, Albuquerque-style, where New Years, July 4th and Cinco de Mayo are greeted by a hail of gunfire, along with any other occasion or no occasion." Perhaps the author didn't consider that anyone from Albuquerque would get their hands on this. If he had he probably wouldn't have drawn such hilarious conclusions about what type of gunfire greets us on any given occasion. (Certainly not a hail, I don't think I would even classify it as any type of precipitation, though falling bullets at the turn of the New Year is an annual concern.)
To further his point about our crime problem, the author mentions the ban on taping new "Cops" episodes that shed a negative light on our fair city. He cites a statistic from "about two years ago" when we supposedly had the same amount of murders as New York City, and with only one fifth of the population. He notes the police helicopter recently shot out of the sky, as well as an ATM mugging and a carjacking. He wraps it all up with the insertion of colorful and hip language like gent (gentleman) and tude (attitude).
Otherwise, the whole thing is loosely tied together with the question of whether or not the Albuquerque resident is sympathetic to open borders (the only other mention of what I can only assume referred to the Mexican border) and then the author wonders what kind of weapon he should arm himself with.
So do we have a serious gunfire and crime problem or is this all just a question of a skewed Wild West perception from someone who doesn't even live here? Well, according to a recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, the Albuquerque metro area ranked among the highest for violent crime, and ranked 17th in Morgan Quinto's overall Most Dangerous Cities.
Of course, statistics are not the final word. However, after a handful of incidents, some involving my friends, some involving myself, such as being followed, groped, burglarized, robbed, peeped at through the window, witnessing and hearing gunshots, broken car windows and stolen stereos, not to mention the prostitutes constantly on the corner outside my old apartment in the UNM area, very seldom do I feel safe alone outside in Albuquerque. The author of the Free-Lance Star article, a defense expert, recommended that his friend stick with his .30 MI carbine "Desert Eagle" for protection. I'm looking into getting a taser.
You can read Bob Sargeant's commentary for yourself at www.fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2005/102005/10062005/132836.