Illegal Guns Are the Enemy

The debate over stop-and-frisk tends to become theoretical. Percentages show that young black men are more likely to be the targets of stop-and-frisk than white or Asian-American men of the same age.

But there is another side to this story. For the people of southeast Queens interviewed in a story running in last week’s edition, the war on guns is anything but theoretical.

Brigitte Hogard’s 18-year-old son was killed a year ago while walking in St. Albans with his friend Darryl. Darryl survived the shooting only to be shot to death months later at the Jamaica Houses.

A young woman said her brother was murdered in Rochdale Village just weeks after attending the funeral of a friend who had been shot to death.

The tale of senseless violence in this part of Queens goes on. Our story captured only a part of the heartbreak. Like the targets of stop-and-frisk, the victims of gun violence also tend to be young black men.

Recently, the Rev. Floyd Flake, pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, defended the controversial stop-and-frisk program.

“I think stop-and-frisk is an important element in trying to stop crime in the community,” he told NY1, adding, “To a large degree, I think it is doing that, but to some degree there are innocent people who are in the streets, they are not carrying guns, they are not criminals and sometimes they are caught up in it.”

NYPD officers involved in the program are currently being retrained to improve their encounters with people on the streets.

Meanwhile, a bill under discussion in Albany will give police a valuable tool in getting more guns off the street without infringing on anyone’s civil liberties. The bill would require “microstamping” of guns made or sold in the state.

The technology assists law enforcement in linking bullet casings found at a crime scene with the guns that fired them. The technology imprints a stamp on a bullet casing each time the gun is fired. In this way police can connect the bullet back to the firearm’s last legal owner or link the gun to a shooting.

To no one’s surprise, the gun lobby is opposed, but it isn’t their children dying on the streets of Queens.

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