2004-08-06 / Editorial/Opinion

Too Many Guns In The Hands Of Teenagers

It does not take much more than looking at the events of Saturday evening to know that there are too many guns in the hands of teens Last Saturday, perhaps 1,000 local residents were enjoying two separate parties on the east end of the peninsula. One of those parties was the “Function At The Junction” at Bayswater Park on Bay 32 Street. That party, designed to bring together those who have left the peninsula for other climes, has been going on without note for years. The other party reportedly was “Family Night” at the “40’s Houses,” where a basketball game was underway. In any case, the police began to move the crowds away from Bay 32 and Beach Channel Drive and most of the party-goers from the park walked west on Beach Channel Drive. A large crowd gathered in front of the Beach 41 Street housing project. Nobody is quite sure what ensued, but locals say that a member of either the Bloods or the Crips, two notorious gangs, decided that he didn’t like what was going on and pulled a automatic handgun. He began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd made up of mostly teenagers. Some say that there was a dispute at Bayswater Park that flared again on the street. Others say that the shooting was part of a gang initiation. Still others say that the shooting was simply another outgrowth of the animosity between two local housing projects. The why, at this point, is less important than the how. We have not had a shooting such as this in Rockaway, once famous for such shootings, in many years. That is, we believe, because the police were allowed to be pro-active in taking guns off the street. That is no longer true. The vast majority of those who live in city housing projects are good people, people who want to be free from the fear of gun violence. They deserve no less. Many of them, however, continually complain that police harass young black men for no reason. Organizations that represent minority opinion in Rockaway push for police power to be diminished. There is no doubt in our mind that the push for less of a police presence diminishes the safety of the residents of those projects. Experienced police officers know what they have to do to take illegal guns off the street. They should be allowed to do their job.

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