Is City Losing the War on Guns?
The city appears to be serious about getting illegal guns off the street. New York has some of the toughest anti-gun laws in the nation. In addition, churches and other organizations participate in gun buy-back programs that allow people to turn in guns for cash rewards without fear of arrest.
And yet the shooting death of an 18-year-old basketball star who grew up in Queensbridge, the shooting of an innocent woman while she sat on her front step in Brooklyn and the shooting of an infant in the projects of Staten Island serve as evidence that the city is losing the war on guns.
Tayshana Murphy was shot in the head Sept. 11 at the Grant Houses in Morningside Heights. She was a high school senior and a star basketball player. There was even talk about her playing one day for the WNBA. Police have arrested two suspects in that shooting.
Suga Ray, a Queensbridge resident and video producer, shared a hope held by many about the death of the talented young girl they called Chicken: “Too many parents are out here hurting. Chicken was powerful. We can unite the city from Queensbridge to Harlem to Brooklyn.”
Samyah Bailey, 21 months, was hit by a stray bullet. She will survive but will go through life without an eye. Police believe they have arrested the 19-year-old thug who pulled the trigger.
Despite a massive effort by the NYPD to get illegal guns off the streets, it remains easy for gangs and other punks to get their hands on semi-automatic weapons. Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes the fault lies with the federal government. Speaking at a breakfast in Harlem, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pressed for stronger federal action against gun violence.
The people buying guns and killing and maiming innocent people are not geniuses. It should be possible to cut off the supply of guns coming into the inner city. Harsh sentences for people caught with illegal guns are appropriate but have had only marginal effect. The federal government must work with the city and state to cut off the supply.