Drive-Bys in Phoenix

From the Firearms Politics list (I've lost the author and date, probably the early 1990s):

Last time I was in Phoenix, [Arizona,] I did some checking on the local real-estate market, and I came across an astonishing ad in the local market-paper. It offered a three-bedroom house in the Phoenix area for -- are you ready for this -- all of $10,000. No money down. $100 per month total payments. Christ on a Harley-Davidson!

I called up the real-estate office making this offer, and asked about that house. Were the walls, roof and foundation structurally sound? Yes. Were the plumbing and electrical systems functional and up to code? Yes. Did the air-conditioning system work? Yes, again. Okay, so what was wrong with the house? Well, it needed lots of plastering, painting, yard work, and some patching of the roof -- and yes, low-interest repair loans were available. Okay, sez I. If that's all that's wrong with it, just why are you selling a 3-bedroom house for all of $10,000? Well, squirms the agent, it's in kind of a bad neighborhood. How bad? sez I, remembering some of the neighborhoods I've seen in Chicago and Oakland. Worst in the city, the agent sighs, and then he told me this amazing story.

Every few years, it seems, the big vice-gangs in Los Angeles notice that there's no gang presence in Phoenix -- which is just a quick 5-hour drive from L.A. -- and get the idea of setting up a subsidiary there. Well, a couple years ago, the colonizing force came to this neighborhood -- it being poor and Spanish, they figured they could move right in and take over -- bought this house and started operations.

Unfortunately for them, the neighbors not only didn't like this -- they didn't care for whores trotting up and down their streets all night, pimps soliciting their kids, dope-deals on the corners in broad daylight, and so on -- they weren't afraid to do something about it. The neighbors called the cops (for some reason, the Phoenix police are remarkably honest, capable, polite and prompt), and the cops promptly came and swept up all the whores, pimps and pushers off the street and away to jail.

The remaining gang members decided to retaliate in the fashion they usually use in L.A.; they got the complainant's name and address off the court records, and did a drive-by shooting at his house. Well, this wasn't Los Angeles. The moment the neighbors heard the first gunshots fired, they all ran out their front doors with their own guns -- rifles, shotguns, pistols, everything -- and shot back.

The car didn't make it to the end of the block. It coasted to a stop, riddled with more holes than the famous Bonnie and Clyde getaway car (which I've seen; it's on display in a casino in a casino in Las Vegas). The gas tank and fuel lines had been ruptured, so the car caught fire. The neighbors waited a good 15 minutes -- making sure nobody got out of that car -- before they called the fire department to come put out the fire and tow the wreck away. By that time, the asphalt under the car had melted and caught fire too, which subsequently left a large and nasty pot-hole in the street. The city is slow about repairing small streets, so the hole stayed there providing a traffic hazard for several months. All this was two years ago, the agent concluded, and there's been no trouble since, but the house and the neighborhood still have a bad reputation -- and that's why the house was so cheap.

Hearing this story, I nearly laughed my ass off. I told the agent that if I had the money at the moment, I'd by-god buy the house; this was nothing compared to bad neighborhoods I'd seen here in California, where drive-by shootings go unchecked by the well-armed cops, let alone by the unarmed neighbors. If that's the absolute worst you'll find in Phoenix, then that's the city for me.

That's the difference that an armed civilian population makes. Think about it.