Hot. Rainy. Cold. It doesn’t matter what you throw at us during Mardi Gras, we are going to roll right on through it and good times will be had by the inhabitants of the Mother of the Mystics.
And they were. With record crowds on many nights, it was one of the best Carnival celebrations I can remember in recent years. But now, as we rake up the beads and put up the Mardi Gras decorations, it’s time for Lent. As such, many of us will give up — or at least attempt to — a bad habit or vice for 40 days.
Alcohol, sweets, caffeine and social media are always popular choices for individuals, but what if we gave up some things together as a community? There are definitely some things we need to do, not just for Lent but forever. And maybe Lent is just as good a time as any to start practicing better habits.
Leaving guns in cars — don’t do it!
The Mobile Police Department (MPD) recently launched a campaign encouraging residents to secure their firearms. According to MPD, during 2017, 1,158 guns were stolen and in 2018, 1,195 guns were taken. Eighty percent of these thefts came from unlocked vehicles, and Chief Lawrence Battiste said the likely culprits were teenagers “pulling on door handles” at night. The vast majority of these weapons were never recovered. And they do not end up in good places. The gun used to kill Officer Sean Tuder was stolen from an unlocked vehicle, just days prior to his death. And one of the guns used in the Mardi Gras shooting between two 17-year-olds this year was also stolen.
It is mind-boggling to think so many gun owners are leaving firearms in their unlocked vehicles that thieves, on average, can steal more than three a day in a given year. Think about that! That is just unacceptable! We have to do better.
I know everyone can have a forgetful day, but if you are going to leave something that can be used to take someone’s life in the console of your Chevy, you don’t have the luxury of being able to just “forget.”
The Mobile City Council discussed approaching state legislators about possibly creating fines or penalties for gun owners who are not properly securing weapons, but Chief Battiste said he feared that would just cause people not to report the theft and then law enforcement wouldn’t have an accurate estimate of how many guns are out on the street. And he’s probably correct in that assessment.
But we shouldn’t have to have fines for something that we should be doing anyway.
Put it in the trunk of your car, keep it in your purse or a bag, take it inside or, at the very least, set a reminder on your phone to make sure your vehicle is locked every night.
Could you imagine just how awful you would feel if your stolen gun was used to kill someone?
Owning a gun is a right, but it is also a huge responsibility. And this is something that is totally preventable. Gun owners, let’s get this number down as close to zero as possible! There’s really no excuse!
Being trashy – stop!
Every year during Mardi Gras, I look at the streets after each parade and think, oh, what fun that was, but man, did we just make a big ol’ mess. Especially after a big rainstorm. Just looking at a crushed moonpie floating in a puddle with some broken beads makes me want to go get a tetanus shot immediately.
And a lot of these trinkets end up making their way into area waters. I am sure if you take a cruise down Three Mile Creek next week you will see Mardi Gras balls and beads on the banks.
There has been some discussion — more so in New Orleans than here — about possibly exchanging the plastic beads for biodegradable ones. I think that is definitely a discussion we should have at some point, but for our Lenten goal, we all need to be less trashy in general.
Of course, there are horrible morons with no upbringing who still throw trash out of their cars like the world is just one giant wastebasket. I really don’t think there is any hope for those nasty folks.
But there are many of us who are litterbugs and don’t even realize it. I know what you are thinking: I would never litter, and I don’t need you preaching at me, Ashley Trice. I know, I know. I didn’t think I was a litterbug either until I realized I was one, unintentionally, but still one nonetheless.
If you are like me, you may clean out your car (mainly because your filthy children leave all kinds of trash in your backseat) and toss said trash in the top of your city-issued garbage cart. If you have ever spent any time behind a garbage truck, you will notice the trash that is not bagged often does not make it into the truck, especially on windy days, and — you guessed it — it ends up on the streets, trashing up the city just as much as it would have if you had thrown it out the window like an idiot.
So try to make sure everything in your cart is bagged up so it doesn’t fly out. We probably can’t do anything about the litterbugs who just don’t give a you-know-what. Litter ordinances are just too hard for the city to really enforce. But if we all do our part to bag up our garbage and also try to pick up as much trash as we can whenever we are out and about, we can make sure this beautiful city shines like she should.
So, let’s lock up our guns and bag up our trash this Lenten season (and beyond) and maybe, just maybe, we can be the cleanest and safest city in America by 2020. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try.
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