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
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.
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