Hurricane Katrina is still causing problems more than a year later, and not only in New Orleans.
"When the 'Katricians' themselves are quoted as saying the crime rate is gonna go up if they don't get more free rent, then it's time to get your concealed-handgun license," warns the radio ad by Jim Pruett, who co-hosts a talk-radio show and owns Jim Pruett's Guns & Ammo, a self- styled "anti-terrorist headquarters" that sells knives, shotguns, semiautomatic rifles and other weapons. As Pruett describes the dangers posed by "Katricians," glass can be heard shattering and a bell tolling ominously.
The radio spot highlights what many gun-store owners say is a trend in Houston: trade in weapons amid a surge in the homicide rate that police attribute to the more than 100,000 hurricane evacuees still in the city. Although the gun-sale reports are largely anecdotal, Texas officials said applications for concealed- weapons permits were up statewide: 60,328 from Jan. 1 to Sept. 1 this year, compared with 46,298 for the same period last year.
The Houston Police Department estimates that one in five homicides in the city now involves Katrina evacuees - as suspect, victim or both. Many Houston residents, including some evacuees, are worried that crime will only get worse once housing and other public assistance end.
So what should Houston do? I don't think they're allowed to "exile" evacuees (or anyone else), so is the city stuck supporting these refugees for a generation or more? The problem is magnified because the least successful New Orleanians were the most likely to become refugees, and the least successful refugees are the most likely to stay put wherever they initially ended up. So Houston and other cities (like Baton Rouge) are now overflowing with people who are basically the least capable remnants of the least capable citizens of one of the least capable cities in America.