Well, just when I thought the news of the faltering economy, the sliding stock market, the Madoff rip-off, the ethical problems of Ray Nagin's administration and the slow recovery from Katrina couldn't get any worse, I got another shock. Louisiana leads the nation in gun deaths! Now that's a number one title I would have preferred we not earn. But earn it we did. Louisiana has more per capita gun-related deaths than any other state. Remember, we only have approximately three million residents and most of them live in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. According to the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group out of Washington, D.C. that monitors such statistics, Hawaii showed up with the fewest gun deaths. While the national death rate was pegged at 10.32 deaths per 100,000 residents, Louisiana led the way at nearly twice that with its 19.58. Alabama was second with 16.99 and Alaska and our other neighbor Mississippi were tied for third place on this unenviable list with 16.38 per 100,000. Nevada finished off the top five list with its ranking of 16.25. It almost boggles the mind that three of the top five states are located in the Deep South. States like Texas or Arizona with their Wild West histories don't even make the cut. To my knowledge, gun ownership is high in those states too. Apparently, the gun owners there are more responsible and careful than the denizens of Dixie. Then, again, residents of New Orleans have been known to signal in each year by firing rounds of automatic and semi-automatic weapons into the air as one might have seen in Hussein's Iraq. Ah, yes, welcome to Louisiana. Welcome to the Third World. Can somebody cover me while I make a dash for my car?