By Steve Mosco
Her son wanted to be a mechanic — instead, he ended up a tragic statistic in a sickening southeast Queens trend.
Sharon Plummer remembers her son Shawn as a promising young man who shunned gang life in favor of automotive work, but when the 18-year-old was gunned down July in Far Rockaway, his potential was erased.
“This was not a thug,” said his mother. “He was not a gang member.”
Plummer’s son died in the crossfire of a gang dispute — a heartbreaking incident she believes never would have happened if the right gun laws were in place. That is why she joined Queens elected officials and other mothers who lost children in gun violence last Thursday to demand stricter penalties for people caught carrying illegal guns.
State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) issued the harsh warning to gun carriers by proposing legislation aimed at significantly tightening gun possession penalties in the state.
“Enough is enough,” said Smith. “It’s time for gun carriers to be on notice that our communities will not stand idly by as our children and our loved ones are senselessly killed.”
Under current law, unlawful possession of a weapon is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of one year in jail. Under Smith’s proposed law, possession would be treated as a Class B violent felony with a minimum jail sentence of five years and a maximum of eight years.
Smith said far too many gang members view a one-year jail sentence as something to be proud of.
But flanked by community leaders and devastated mothers, Smith said times are calling for a change.
“The bullets that have been descending on our community have not discriminated based on age, race, religion or social status,” he said. “Every day of inaction will mean another child will go fatherless, another mother will lose her child, another brother will feel the pain of loss of a sibling, and someone will never see a loved one again.”
Joining Smith were state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica), state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) and City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who said the new legislation will send an important message that the community will no longer tolerate gun violence.
“We need to eliminate the thought among young people that going to jail for a year is some sort of badge of honor,” Comrie. “This legislation makes gun possession a real felony — which it should be.”
Members of anti-gun group Teens Against Crime were also on hand to lend support to Smith’s legislation. The senator said the new gun law he is trying to enact aims at ensuring that children like those in TAC can go outside in southeast Queens and not risk causing their mothers never-ending tears of mourning.
“You get caught with your gun, you’re gone. You’re not coming back in a year, six months, five months,” he said. “By the time you come back, these kids here will have graduated from high school, maybe gone on to college.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.