No magic bullet

by Brian Clarey

Another weekend in Greensboro brought another nightclub shooting, this one at Club Plush on the High Point Road corridor early Sunday morning.

The victim, an 18-year-old woman from Danville, Va. who was pronounced dead at Moses Cone Hospital later that morning, was likely an innocent bystander.

The rash of gun activity in the city is certainly problematic and disturbing: Four incidents in the last month have the effect of making Greensboro feel like a city under siege by armed hooligans with no regard for public safety.

And we suppose it is inevitable that city leaders feel compelled to do something about this trend. Recent ordinances designed to combat this problem have been raised and ratified — a downtown curfew for minors goes into effect on Jan. 1, along with new regulations concerning loitering on city streets and parking decks.

But we’ve pointed out that these new ordinances serve only to float the perception that we are doing something about violent crime and to assuage the fears of a select group of property and business owners.

Which ordinance, we ask, would have prevented the drive-by shooting at Club Plush?

The curfew would not. The curfew is just for the downtown district, which does not cover High Point Road — though this is the second murder on High Point Road just this year, while downtown Greensboro has yet to see a single murder in 2010.

Also, the victim was 18 years old, and wouldn’t have been affected by the curfew even if it was instituted city wide.

Nor would the loitering ordinance, also relegated to downtown Greensboro, have saved the life of Lacqueon Abrillia Gregory outside Club Plush on Saturday night.

Minors are not the problem. Loitering, however it’s defined is not the problem. Jackasses with guns who have no compunctions about firing them off in public are the problem, and realistically speaking, there’s not much we can do about it without changing gun laws, which due to a well-funded lobby and an American allegiance to firearms is highly unlikely.

But there may be a way to mitigate the violence that has been plaguing our clubs, one that is used successfully by other cities that have active nightlife and persistent crime.

We propose that nightclubs be required to hire off-duty police officers — in uniform — to work detail on busy nights. Cops in uniform stop some crimes before they even happen, and when something bad goes down, having a uniformed cop already on the scene is good for everybody — except the perps.

Nightclubs are not going away. Neither are guns and the morons who like to shoot them off in public. All we can do is holds club owners accountable for the safety of their patrons and try to be proactive in the fight against nightlife violence.

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