Stop the gunfire

Albany Times Union

The gun violence Albany is experience this year is part of a national problem that demands, among other things, stronger federal gun control laws.


Albany, like cities around the U.S., is seeing a terrifying spike in gun violence.


The success of our cities — and the safety of our children — depends on stemming the flow of illegal guns.

Early on Sunday, 29-year-old Devin McGlothan became the ninth person killed in Albany so far this year. The East Greenbush resident was shot at the corner of Quail Street and Elberon Place in the city’s Pine Hills neighborhood.

The toll, which includes six killings in May alone, is both shocking and unacceptable. This dramatic spike in mayhem, killing children and bystanders alike, must be treated as a crisis. It demands an immediate, forceful and yet thoughtful response, and not just from City Hall and the police department.

This isn’t happening in Albany alone. Cities across New York and around the country are experiencing similar — and in some cases more severe — increases in gun-related crime this year, following a 2020 that was also notable for spiking numbers of shootings and homicides.

This is a national problem, then, that demands a federal response. It requires that this gun-saturated country at last get serious about stemming the flow of illegal weaponry, including the trafficking of guns from states with lax laws to those, like New York, with tougher ones.

“This is about guns coming into our community,” Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan told reporters after McGlothan’s death. City police, meanwhile, say they’ve confiscated 35 illegally possessed firearms this year.

In a country where children are shot as they play, Congress must pass legislation requiring background checks for all gun purchases. That’s the very least lawmakers should do. Instead, Americans get continued inaction.

In a country where innocents are gunned down in schools and on sidewalks, we should expect the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to deal seriously with gun sellers who violate existing laws. But as a recent USA Today investigation found, the nation’s supposed gun watchdog is “largely toothless and conciliatory, bending over backward to go easy on wayward dealers.”

That’s outrageous. And infuriating. It needs to change, immediately, starting with putting leadership in the agency committed to public protection, not coddling lawbreakers.

Yes, it is true gun control is not a panacea. There are other factors behind this wave of violence. Stemming it requires a multipronged effort.

We need, for example, better policing and police officers who walk their beats and know their neighborhoods. We need more investment in programs that defuse violence and address the inequities, both economic and social, that so often underlie it.

But the killing of Destiny Greene, a 15-year-old from Latham killed when the car she sat in was sprayed with bullets in the Mansion neighborhood, doesn’t happen without the gun. Neither does the death of Sharf “David” Addalim, the corner store worker gunned down in West Hill as he returned from afternoon prayer.

In fact, eight of the nine killings in Albany this year involved guns, an essential fact that can’t be ignored. To address spiking violence, then, we must address the guns. We’ll say it again: To address the violence, this country must take action on guns.


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