40 armed robberies in Uptown since May has some turning to guns for self-defense

Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- Just a block from a busy stretch of Magazine Street shops and restaurants, a woman was robbed at gunpoint early Sunday night by two men in the 3300 block of Constance Street.

News of the incident spread quickly to neighbors like Ben Sherman.

"When something as unfortunate as Sunday night happens this close, you'll hear about it walking your dog, be careful,” he said.

Sherman does his best to keep an eye out for possible attackers, but as the wave of armed robberies continues across uptown, he worries it could happen to anyone.

"What's going on here is far less easy to protect yourself from."

It's a concern employees at a West Bank gun shop hear often.

"People that would normally not buy a gun, or buy some type of protection -- will come in because of something they heard on the news, something that happened down the street, or something that happened to them or a relative, and they want to protect themselves,” said the shop’s manager, Jason Gregory.

Gregory said customers are seeking a wide range of protective supplies, from pepper spray to semi-automatic handguns. He said he knows his customers are making high-stakes purchases – it’s a reason he tries to thoroughly educate them on how to use the weapons, and how to react if confronted by an attacker.

The reality, he said, is each situation is unique.

"Using deadly force is a last resort and we always tell people that,” Gregory said. “Just because you're buying this handgun doesn't mean that you should pull it, doesn't mean that you're gonna win today. It just means that you have a better opportunity to protect yourself."

But talk to an NOPD officer, and you'll get different advice. Officials stress that it isn't worth it to put up a fight.

"Don't resist that individual. We don't want you to be injured,” said Sgt. Nicholas Gernon of the NOPD 8th District Robbery Division. “You can replace your property, but we don't want you to be injured. Once that person is gone, take note of their direction of flight, try and remember their physical characteristics, and call the police as soon as it's safe as possible to do."

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