With countless New Year’s celebrations scheduled across the city, New Orleans is launching a new “Capping Crime” campaign for reducing the number of victims especially from gunshots.
City officials are advising all citizens, from this day forward, to always assume anything that sounds even remotely like firecrackers is, in fact, gunfire until proven otherwise.
“Witnesses always say ‘I thought it was just firecrackers’ before they realize what’s actually happening,” said Claude Wooten, spokesperson for Mayor LaToya Cantrell. With several politicians calling for stricter gun control measures in response to a recent spike in crime, Wooten said the mayor partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation New Orleans to develop the new campaign.
“To reduce the number of victims in potential future tragedies, we are advising that whenever you hear anything that sounds like fireworks — even when watching an actual fireworks display — or any loud sound for that matter, you now are to always assume it’s gunfire. Get down, keep your head down, find a safe spot to hold up, and wait until authorities give an all-clear sign.”
To quickly get the word out about the new initiative, authorities dove deep into the archives and revived Bert the Turtle of Duck and Cover fame from the Cold War. Bert will be appearing in new TV spots starting New Year’s Eve through the end of Mardi Gras season reminding people to assume all loud sounds are gunshots with the campaign “Heard a loud noise? Duck and cover!”
“I’m not sure what else we can do,” New Orleans resident Harry Fernandez said after seeing that seven people had been shot in the city on Christmas day. “It seems the only way to reduce the number of victims is to assume the absolute worst every single second of the day.”
As part of the campaign, the city’s preliminary list of sounds that could be confused with gunfire and, if heard, should now be presumed lethal until notified otherwise, include:
• Muffler backfiring
• Power transformer exploding
• Garbage truck emptying a dumpster
• Lightbulb breaking
• Cap guns
• Bat hitting ball at baseball game
• Politicians (any caliber)
• Shawn Mendes
“A running joke in New Orleans is citizens playing the ‘is it fireworks or gunfire” game,” Wooten said. “It’s a shame, but in this day and age, we need to take all the precautions we can and that starts with changing the public’s sense of fireworks and other loud noises to be perceived as life-threatening sounds. From New Year’s Eve on, like Bert says, ‘Duck and cover if you hear any loud noise.'”