In one tragic week, a 4-year-old boy was shot to death in the Bronx while watching a basketball game and 2,000 miles away in Aurora, Col., 12 people were shot to death and 58 others were wounded by a madman while watching the new Batman movie.
Neither incident involved Queens, but in August 2012 no one can say it couldn’t happen here.
As long as teenage gang members are bringing guns to basketball games, it is hard to argue to some modified form of stop-and-frisk.
At a recent meeting with 113th Precinct Deputy Inspector Milt Marmara, Clifton Stanley Diaz, president of the Rochdale Village Civic Association, said the problem is not stop-and-frisk but the lack of communication between the police and the community.
In a display of support for the NYPD, Diaz said, “Our commander [Marmara] has been out there doing an outstanding job enforcing the law. But we have to communicate more to make this work.”
Then the conversation hit a wall. The Rochdale Village residents said their concern was that police were more likely to stop certain types of individuals.
Marmara reassured the civic group that officers were not interested in demographics and they just enforced the law. No one believes that.
The police employ stop-and-frisk in neighborhoods that have a problem with gang and drug-related violence. They target people most likely to be carrying a gun and, fortunately, most of the time they are wrong.
But handguns tucked inside a waistband are not the only weapons that threaten Queens. Stronger legislation is needed to make certain that nut cases and drug dealers don’t get their hands on the kind of assault weapon James Holmes was carrying In Colorado.
His AR-15 had a 100-round drum magazine. He stopped firing because his gun jammed.
H.R. 308, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy from Nassau would limit the size of gun magazines to 10 rounds. That’s a good start.
Better communication is needed. Residents and police must be certain they are on the same side. But residents should not have to fear that their children won’t get caught in the crossfire at a neighborhood basketball game.
The war on guns has a long way to go.