Uptick in Murders Tied to Easy Gun Access for Young Adults

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The NYPD says shootings and murders are up in New York City. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the easy access teens have to guns is law enforcement's biggest challenge.

Vance said the recent arrest of one 20-year-old who had sold 25 illegal guns since the summer underscores a troubling trend.

"In the first 11 months of this calendar year, 240 defendants were indicted by the Manhattan DA's office for possessing loaded guns and of these 240 defendants, 58 of them, or 24 percent, were 18-years-old or younger," said Vance. "These are young adults who should be in school, not with their gun in their hands headed for prison or an early grave."

According to court documents, in the spring of 2010 the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD began a joint investigation into firearms trafficking by 20-year-old Juan Rivas.

Between June 2010 and November 2010, Rivas allegedlly sold a total of 25 firearms on 16 different dates to an undercover detective for more than $25,000. Some of these deals went down in Manhattan, the Bronx and Yonkers.

The firearms Rivas sold included five .380-caliber semiautomatic pistols, two .40-caliber semiautomatic pistols, one .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, one .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol, seven .38-caliber revolvers, two .32-caliber revolvers, one .22-caliber revolver, two shotguns, and four 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols, one of which was an assault weapon. Fourteen of these firearms were sold loaded and two of them were defaced, with an attempt to remove the gun’s serial number.

Rivas was hit with a 69-count indictment for conducting illegal gun sales in and around the Bronx, Yonkers and Manhattan. The indictment follows a long-term investigation conducted jointly by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Violent Criminal Enterprise Unit and the New York City Police Department’s Firearms Investigation Unit.

“Despite having some of the strongest anti-gun laws in the nation, our City continues to see the devastating consequences of gun violence,” said District Attorney Vance. “These illegal guns could have been used to kill, maim, injure, or threaten, but now they are permanently off our streets."

Vance said getting illegal guns off the street has to be law enforcment's top priority. The city-wide murder rate has gone up by 13 percent on average, but is still dramtically lower than where it was 20 years ago. However, the latest trend troubles law enforcement. In most Manhattan precincts, the murder rate is flat or lower than last year's, but in four Manhattan precincts, the increase is in the triple digits, with one in northern Manhattan posting a 500 percent spike in murders over 2009.

In addition to stepping up community outreach, the NYPD continues to promote a gun buy back program. This weekend, the NYPD and two central Brooklyn churches will host a gun buy back.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says such programs have resulted in getting 6,000 guns off the street this year. The Department has also seized close to that same number city-wide over the same period.


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Comments [5]

Lou Gots from Philadelphia

This article, and most like it, proceed on the assumption that any gun removed throm the market is a crime prevented. This is absurd. Gunsd are a commodity. subject to the same law of supply and demand as any other. Making guns harder to get merely moves the supply curve a little, driving up prices, but hardly scratching demand.

That is because of the inelasticity of criminal demand for weapons. Any gun gives such as advantage over no gun for most criminals, thatr they will do whatever it takers to arm themselves.. If every gun were taken out of lawful commerce, bad people would get guns smuggled in from abroad or made on small machine shops.

Anyway, there is no possibility of that happening. There are hundreds of millions of guns out there, and guns are effectively immortal--guns made in the Nineteenth Century are as deadly as the day they were made.,

Jan. 06 2011 08:45 AM
Papagodd from Virginia

HarlemGuy, I agree with you, but want to make something clearer. "Legal" gun owners are not selling their guns illegally in most cases and that is the problem. We don't have laws in all states that require "legal" owners to act responsibly when they sell guns to strangers, thus there are no laws to enforce to reduce this supply method to illegal users. Many "legal" owners act responsibly, but the ones that don't seem to think that responsible behavior is not necessary because the constitution does not require it! It would be great if all gun owners refused to sell guns to peole they know nothing about, then we would not need laws on this subject, but clearly many "law abiding" gun owners have no intention of doing this unless compelled to do so by law.

Dec. 09 2010 09:37 AM

Responding to Kelso

a) Death by gun shot is the leading cause of death for black males in many larger urban areas, including NYC. The data is so clear on this you just can't minimize the problem.

b) All guns were "legally" purchased at some point. Gun dealers and manufactures, as well as "legal" gun owners who sell their guns illegally are fueling the problem of "gun violence."

Reducing access to guns has to be part of the larger effort to reduce violence in our nation. DA Vance is to be commended for trying to do something about it.

Dec. 08 2010 11:41 AM
PeterHamm from 20814

Thanks for covering this story. See the film "Living for 32" for a compelling story about a Virginia Tech shooting victim. The trailer is at Read Maria Cuomo Cole's Huffington Post blog on the subject at

Thanks again.

Dec. 08 2010 10:21 AM

"Uptick in Murders Tied to Easy Gun Access for Young Adults"
a) This misleading header holds no salt. Only 24% of 240 defendants is not indicating a pandemic unique to the age group to which you refer.

b) This is an article overwhelmingly speaking of illegally procured firearms. Thus the title should indicate this. One is easily led to assume that you are referring to legally owned firearms. But then again I have a feeling it was wished to have this effect.

This might be worthy of article, but framed responsibly.

Dec. 08 2010 08:51 AM

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