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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

“Hey, I really like this gun. How much is it?”

“Well sir, the gun costs $515, but you have to fill out this form and wait for approval before I can let you walk out the door with it.”

That kind of conversation, thankfully, happens on a regular basis in gun shops all around the country. Before you can buy a gun, you first have to show that you have the responsible history necessary to own a firearm. It is a reasonable thing that everyone can agree on. What if we had a similar conversation, but with a different topic?

“Hey, I really like your little small town. How much is the rent to live here?”

“Well sir, we have some nice apartments for around $600 per month. But before you can live here, you have to fill out these forms so we can do a background check and make sure that you don’t have a violent past.”

Unconstitutional? Absolutely. Irrational and over-reactive? Probably. A bad idea? Not in my mind.

Last week, someone new went shooting up Lockport and, once again, that person is not even from Lockport. That kind of situation is playing itself out more and more lately. The drugs are getting worse and so are the living conditions in a city that used to be one of the safest places in the area.

When I was growing up in Lockport, it was the kind of place you only saw on television. People were safe, we played in the streets, and we never gave any thought to guns or drugs. Of course guns and drugs were around, but a shooting in Lockport used to be an annual thing and not a weekly event.

Did someone go around with pamphlets about a decade ago advertising Lockport as the new and hip place for scumbags to go? Even at its absolute worst, Lockport never had to deal with the kind of violence and all-around element of human garbage that we have to deal with now. The worst part is that most of the garbage actually belongs to other cities in Western New York.

We are not inhospitable people here in Lockport. We like having company from time to time and we always appreciate it when new folks come to live in our neighborhoods. But when your intention is to commit violent and drug-related crimes in Lockport, then we don’t want you.

I have said this before and I will say it again. Criminals that come from outside Lockport seem to think that we have the Andy Griffith lifestyle here with a sheriff and whacky deputy. When it comes to small towns, very few can hold a candle to our Lockport police force. We have a well-trained, well-equipped, and angry group of men and women who have dedicated their lives to keeping our city safe. About 10 years ago, a police job in Lockport wasn’t a bad deal. Today, it is a life and death situation, and it has almost nothing to do with the people who grew up here.

If you are considering moving to Lockport because you think that our little city is “easy pickins” for your fledgling criminal empire, then don’t bother. Stay the hell away from us because I can tell you that the citizens of Lockport, the people who really care about this city, are getting sick of this garbage.

We are a small city, but we are not a backwards small town. It always makes me laugh when I talk to friends from Buffalo and they are shocked that we have cable television in Lockport. No, seriously. They were genuinely shocked that cable television went “that far into the country.”

In the past, the mistaken illusion that Lockport was this little Podunk town helped to keep people away from us. But now, it makes us look like helpless victims who cannot defend themselves. Trust me, we are not helpless and we are pretty much done being victims.

We either stand up and take back our city, or the scumbags will take over pretty soon. It is our choice. Instead of funding pet projects, the city needs to invest in the police force. Instead of looking the other way when some scumbag is committing a crime, Lockport residents need to be vigilant and call the police right away.

It’s up to us. We can let them win and never get our safe, little city back, or we can realize that times are changing and we need to take responsibility for our future.

What’s it going to be, Lockport?

Nick Oliver is a Niagara County resident who is sick of scumbag criminals. His column appears every Wednesday and he really hopes that people are paying attention.

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