After three men were slaughtered in a triple homicide back in the long, hot summer of 2012, Queens DA Richard Brown called for another gun buyback in southeast Queens.
The victims were ambushed by at least two people armed with an assault rifle who fired more than 50 shots into a Jeep Cherokee in Springfield Gardens early in the morning.
Two months later the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Rochdale held a buyback that netted 509 firearms, including an AK-47. It was a simple commercial transaction for both legal and illegal weapons: No questions asked.
Working handguns and pistols were turned in for $200 bank cards; rifles and shotguns brought $20.
Southeast Queens lawmakers were optimistic that gun buyback programs, along with the Federal Assault Weapon Ban, would help reduce violent street crime.
But the 10-year ban expired on Sept. 13, 2014 after a bitterly fragmented Congress failed to extend the act, leaving it up to New York to defend its own ban.
After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, legislatures in Albany and Hartford passed bans on assault weapons as well as magazines with large rounds of ammunition.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association challenged the bans as unconstitutional in a bid to take the case to the Supreme Court.
But a federal court of appeals upheld the strict laws Monday, saying both states had the legal right “to address these particularly hazardous weapons.” The panel, however, voided the provision that forbade large capacity magazines.
The assault weapon debate is another state vs. downstate issue that plays out across the country.
Even though some recent mass shootings have been carried out in non-urban areas, relentless gun violence has become a daily feature of life in big cities.
Crime may be down in New York City, but shootings are up, stirring fears in some quarters that we may be on the cusp of a return to the 1990s when drug gangs’ weapon of choice was an assault rifle.
That scenario is overblown, but there is no room for assault weapons that can wipe out multiple lives in minutes to settle scores in this city. Upstate New York has a long history of hunting and handling weapons responsibly in most cases.
But despite support for the AK-47 and its relatives in parts of northern New York, the woods are no place for military-style weapons during deer season. The bow and arrow, the hunting rifle and the shotgun belong in the hunter’s arsenal. Period.