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Gun Crazy

To the Editor:

The Albany community owes a debt of gratitude to Metroland for publishing David King’s sobering article on illegal guns in our city [“Clear and Present Danger,” April 12]. There is another aspect of this problem however, to which I’d like to call attention.

In recent weeks, Albany County District Attorney David Soares took a lot of criticism over his leadership in the multistate steroid investigation, Operation Which Doctor. One would have expected the Drug Enforcement Administration to have handled this case. Unfortunately, it is becoming alarmingly evident that interstate crime is being less and less effectively confronted by our federal agencies. Much of that is attributable to a massive shift of resources to Homeland Security. The impact on control of white-collar crime was reported recently by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Thousands of FBI special agents who formerly investigated these crimes have been transferred to anti- terrorism efforts and not replaced.

The problem of illegal guns is a case in point. They flow from Southern states up the so-called “Iron Pipeline” of north-south interstate highways. BATFE has not been effective in stanching this flow of weaponry. As Mr. King’s article correctly points out, those states are the source of the guns that are taking young lives on the streets of Albany. What to do?

Back around 1990, the state’s director of criminal justice had the idea of New York and Virginia—one of the gun-source states—entering into an interstate compact to cooperate on investigations involving guns that had been purchased in Virginia. As the superintendent of the Virginia State Police at the time was a friend of mine, I called him to help set this up with his governor’s office. He was quite enthusiastic. A former New York State trooper, Col. Carl Baker, told me it caused him considerable embarrassment to find that a relatively common occurrence was some character from [Washington] D.C. coming over to buy a gun and using it to commit a crime on his way home. I am not aware of any gun cases that were cleared as the result of this compact, but the idea was and is a sound one. It is now imperative that states do a whole lot more to offset the re directed priorities and resources of our federal agencies.

Here in Albany, I have no hesitation in endorsing Councilman Dominick Calsolaro’s proposal for a gun task force. Dr. Leonard Morgenbesser is right in characterizing this epidemic of violence a public health issue. As such, its solution cannot reasonably or responsibly be expected from the Albany Police Department.

Terry O’Neill, Esq.


Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters addressed to the editor. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length or clarity; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are anonymous, illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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