Alcohol and guns in New Caledonia
We’ve been away for the last month, visiting the United States and France. Thus, the grand gap in posts about life here in New Caledonia. My apologies to all of you – I missed reporting on the strikes (against the high cost of living), the gas shortage, the burning tires, the general mayhem, which I hear has calmed, at least for now.
This week I returned to horrifying reports of a 9-year-old being shot in the head and killed (by his father, who said afterwards, “That’s not who I was aiming at.” He’d had a bit too much to drink and was angry at his brother, who he was aiming at, but missed. He also shot his sister-in-law by accident.) Followed by the Department of Motor Vehicles employee who ended up in a alcohol-related car accident in Maré, after having travelled there to test future drivers. As if this weren’t enough, on Friday, we learned of a drunk school bus driver who bumped into a few cars and ran a red light before he was stopped in central Nouméa. He was driving a bus of 50-60 teenage passengers. Yesterday, I read about another man who fired a 12-calibre into a hut (where 5 people were gathered), when he heard his wife and friends laughing inside. This followed a dispute between the husband and wife and alcohol was involved.
What is it with alcohol in this country? And guns?
Not one of the best combinations, and not one that makes me happy about returning to New Caledonia. The United States and France are also facing these problems, so I do not pretend that this is particular to here. But what is frightening is the higher incidence of alcohol-related crime (car accidents, domestic violence, child abuse) and the number of arms (which I recently learned do not require permits to own).
Am I happy to be back? Ask me next week.