2003-07-17 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

The Gun Fight: Frustration Is The Only Winner
By Charles Rogers
View From The Middle By Charles Rogers The Gun Fight: Frustration Is The Only Winner


The subject this week once again is cops. Cops and illegal guns and the dedication of one group to get rid of the other.

You must have seen the story on television or read about it in the dailies last week where two brave cops doing undercover duty last March were executed in a car in Staten Island in a gun-selling operation. Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin had been involved in dealing with a few people in Bed Stuy who would sell them a bunch of guns that had been illegally transported up here from South Carolina and Virginia and Georgia and North Carolina — all purchased legally in those states. The undercover officers would pay as much as five times what the cost of the gun would be, peeling off a few thousand bucks to give to the gun-runners for selling them some high class weapons, including 9-mm handguns and .357 Magnums and, yes, some of those heavy artillery Mac 11 semi-automatics. When easily purchased by bad guys, these guns would be used in robberies and drug operations and murders all over the Northeast.

Andrews fashioned his case properly so as to catch the gun-runners and now, less than four months after his death, those detectives who did the follow-up work were able to arrest three men. With proper prosecution, they will be doing hard time in jail soon.

It’s frustrating to see the proliferation of guns here; frustrating and depressing, because it just does not stop. Every time you turn around there is a gun story. Witness last week’s issue of this newspaper, with every story on page three — the page reserved primarily for "hard" news — having the word "shot" in the headline: "Bergen Beach Businessman Found Shot…"; "Guest at 4th Of July Party Shot…"; "Teen Shot While Fleeing…"; "Man Shot In Back…"

This week again we have more shootings to herald, including one on Avenue N and another on East 104 Street and — who knows? There might be a few we haven’t heard about yet. Do I wish we didn’t have to tell you about shooting after shooting after violent episode? Of course I do!

But that’s not our job. We must tell it like it is. And if "like it is" doesn’t suit you, we’re sorry. We’re depressed too.

Yes, depressed.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has put out me-mo after memo to his precinct commanders to get the guns off the streets and I can tell you personally that Deputy Inspector Robert Johnsen, 69th Precinct commander, has made sure that the Anti Crime Unit (plainclothes) cops and the uniformed patrol people have been ordered to make gun arrests just about their biggest priority.

To a degree, the war is being fought well, with a modicum of success. Local police are indeed making weapons violation arrests almost daily.

But how much good can it do if the guns can be bought legally?

The trouble lies with federal legislation, folks. You know it and I know it.


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