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In a Mailbox: A Shared Gun, Just for the Asking
February 18, 2012 1:39 PM   Subscribe

With a tough economy and less money to go around, gang members in New York City are resorting to sharing guns hidden in easily accessible places.
posted by reenum (53 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
This isn't new at all. Even The Wire gives examples where corner boys would keep a single gun in a wheel well of a parked car for easy access. this is probably just a sign of the advances in ballistics as well as a focus on younger gang members - as is pointed out in the article. Interesting though.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:51 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've got to get my lawyers working on a way to make "Zipcar for guns" profitable.

I'll call it Zapgat.
posted by Winnemac at 2:02 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yeah, this was going on 20 years ago in Southeast DC.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:17 PM on February 18, 2012


While the explanations offered by the article sound plausible, I wonder if the reported increased occurrence of this behavior might, in part, be traced to the recent significant increase in the number of street stops in NYC?

If gang members have recently been subject to a lot more stop-and-frisks, surely they might see a greater risk in actually carrying weapons. In response, rather than disarming themselves, they might just start preferring to stash their weapons in readily accessible nearby public locations. That would allow them quick access to their weapons, without risking being caught with a weapon during a stop-and-frisk. The weapons might only be communal in the sense that many members of the gang might possess weapons, but the gang might choose to stash only one or two of these weapons in public at a time (I wonder how often weapons hidden in public places go missing?). This idea also works with the fact mentioned in the article's that these communal guns are sometimes being "hidden" on the person of someone who is above suspicion. Such a person would also be less likely to be subjected to a stop-and-frisk.
posted by RichardP at 2:30 PM on February 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Fucking commies.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:40 PM on February 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


The article also notes that the gangs seem to be younger (is that true?) and that superior forensics may simply be allowing us to detect this more often. It's interesting, at any rate.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:47 PM on February 18, 2012


They should just use flower pots.
posted by elgilito at 2:48 PM on February 18, 2012


"Get the Woka Flacka" I'm going to try and make this into a thing.
posted by Renoroc at 2:58 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the time I was sitting at home and heard a lot of noise out on the front stoop. I'd only been in NYC for a couple years at that point... so I was naive enough to think that when I looked out and saw a bunch of kids around by the steps I should go out and ask what they were doing. So I made my way downstairs. When I opened the front door, I saw that there were a group of young men getting machetes out from behind my garbage cans.

I went back inside.
posted by dubold at 3:13 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Hyruleans have resorted to keeping their arrows in conspicuous pots
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2012 [29 favorites]


Came in here to suggest exactly what RichardP says. Why risk getting caught with a gun on you, when 99.9% of the time you aren't going to need it anyway? I think the fact that the article doesn't even suggest this demonstrates a pretty severe lack of understanding.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:23 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I look forward to the return of more prosperous times where every gang member in America will be able to afford their own firearm.
posted by jimmythefish at 3:24 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


(And the article's suggestion instead that gang members simply can't afford their own guns in this economy... well... seriously?)
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:25 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a better indication of upcoming bullshit than "X appears to be on the increase, according to the police"?
posted by docgonzo at 3:26 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Waka Flocka Flame Luv Dem Gun Sounds
posted by Ad hominem at 3:42 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmmm, when the Internet started advocating for fewer bullshit NYT styles pieces about "small but growing" trends embraced by rich white people, I don't think they meant "to be replaced by bullshit pieces about small but growing trends embraced by poor people of color." But I could be wrong!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:42 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Community guns are the new black.
posted by dhartung at 3:52 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guys, it's cool: Thomas Friedman's taxi driver told me this is totally legit.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Damn you guys are being harsh. They are talking about high school age kids here not professional adult criminals. So yeah, they might have to scrape together 100 to get a pos 22 and ammo. They also say it is an old tradition, it is the police that say they are seeing an uptick.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:57 PM on February 18, 2012


"It's in that place where I left that thing that time."
posted by asterix at 4:14 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


It seems there should be an app for that already...pinwheel or 4square or some sort of geocaching thing?
posted by klarck at 4:23 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder how multiple individuals using a single gun for lots of different shootings affects the police's ability to obtain forensic evidence or to tie people to specific crimes. IANA-crime-scene-technician but my (totally spurious) guess is that the more people who use it, the harder it would be to obtain clean or useful forensics. So perhaps, perversely, sharing a gun reduces a shooter's risk of getting caught and there's some sort of positive externality for thugs thing going on.
posted by emergent at 4:32 PM on February 18, 2012


This is actually funny. they are having financial issues too.
posted by BobS13 at 4:36 PM on February 18, 2012


No need for an app, just use The Clapper.
posted by arcticseal at 4:39 PM on February 18, 2012


This is not new. It's based on the vacation condo timeshare model that first emerged in the '70s.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:39 PM on February 18, 2012


It's times like these that I miss the original Law & Order the most.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:53 PM on February 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


First, I think 'zipglock' is a better name, Winniemac.

Second(ly), I teach high school in NYC and am constantly saying 'hey, you left your hat here' or 'your pants just fell off' or 'where is your so and so' etc with responses of 'whaa...' or 'i forgot it' or 'huh?'. So...in one sense, that's quite reassuring that the organizational skills of most (based on my relatively small sample of) teenagers may just work in any future potential victims' favor.

At least that's what I'm going to tell myself.
posted by bquarters at 4:53 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


How about, zipgun? Wait, that's already taken.
posted by wuwei at 5:07 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree that gangs sharing guns is not the most newsworthy story I've seen, but I wonder about two things. First, how does this affect the usefulness of the firearm? Are the guns maintained as well? Are criminals less effective because the gun is not cared for properly or that are not as familiar with it? I know we're not talking about marines here, but I'd assume that someone's own gun is a more effective weapon than one you only have for a short while before you plan to shoot.

Second, ZipGatt or ZipGlock jokes aside, is anyone doing that? Are there small time arms dealers that provide a set of weapons to a gang in their territory that the gang basically rents? Or are gangs too untrusting to outsource their weapons to a third party? If they did, that would seem to be an effective gun control method, cutting down on illicit gun supply by targeting people who provide guns that are used by many rather than one.

As far as the guns effecting police work, it might be harder to crack an individual case, but once you get one of the communal guns, you might have the weapon used in a number of crimes. Plus if getting the gun is a part of not just every criminal act but also every possible act, that's another place where someone could make a mistake and get caught by the police.
posted by Taco John at 5:11 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The word GUNS is the word SNUG spelled backwards.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:13 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everyone needs a SNUG.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:16 PM on February 18, 2012


This is just terrible. Is there a charity that I can donate to that will buy guns for these gang members?
posted by planet at 5:24 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


long time ago in the 90's i worked as an all night clerk in a convenience store - one night, i went to the bathroom, washed my hands and had trouble getting the paper towels out of the dispenser - i pulled out the object that was jamming things up and found myself holding a gun

my partner just about freaked out over that - she called the police and the officer was fairly impressed by it - not a cheapie

it was loaded, too - fortunately, i knew enough to check the safety before i walked it back to the counter

never did find out who put it there or why
posted by pyramid termite at 5:37 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is like the reverse of that thing where people read The Onion and take it for real news.

The assumption that if gang members are hiding guns it must be related to "the economy" - made by a New York Times staff writer - is so hilariously clueless that it's almost impossible to believe it's not a parody.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:42 PM on February 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


First, how does this affect the usefulness of the firearm?

It depends on the type of firearm. For example, revolvers are generally simple to maintain and can continue to operate in less-than-ideal conditions. Glocks are renown for taking punishment. On the other hand, you get what you pay for -- a low-quality firearm will blow up in your hand regardless of how lovingly you maintain it, and in the early 90s, there were a ton of companies flooding the market with small pistols of shitty quality. My guess is that these "rentals" are mostly these shitty guns, still in circulation.

But I think your average low-end gangster doesn't much know or care about such things. Other than knowing the "sexy" brands like Glock, they're likely only concerned about whether it goes boom when you pull the trigger. And the guys renting these guns out are preying on their customers' lack of knowledge, and their lack of ability to go somewhere else to get what they want.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:47 PM on February 18, 2012


It's stories like these that make me wish Law & Order was still around so they could start out an episode with a dead drug dealer in an alley, Lenny could make some acerbic comment while Rey Curtis tells him about this story he heard on the Internets (he's young, see?) about kids stashing guns so they find this gun and while checking it out discover it was reported stolen years ago and was used in a bunch of unsolved murders and whoa, turns out it belonged to an employee of a Senator who maybe is responsible for bumping someone off and surely the senator doesn't know anything about this but maybe he does I mean why else has Jack suddenly been called into the Governor's office?

It also makes me wish the world weren't such a messed up place, but yeah.
posted by dumbland at 5:47 PM on February 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wonder how multiple individuals using a single gun for lots of different shootings affects the police's ability to obtain forensic evidence or to tie people to specific crimes. IANA-crime-scene-technician but my (totally spurious) guess is that the more people who use it, the harder it would be to obtain clean or useful forensics. So perhaps, perversely, sharing a gun reduces a shooter's risk of getting caught and there's some sort of positive externality for thugs thing going on.

The DA's office will end up charging the guy they collar with the gun with as many shootings as they think will stick. It may be none, it may be a dozen, but it's like a hot potato.
posted by clarknova at 5:49 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


never did find out who put it there or why

I'm just spitballing, but I'm thinking it was a robber who intended to rob the convenience store.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:53 PM on February 18, 2012


Second, ZipGatt or ZipGlock jokes aside, is anyone doing that? Are there small time arms dealers that provide a set of weapons to a gang in their territory that the gang basically rents? Or are gangs too untrusting to outsource their weapons to a third party? If they did, that would seem to be an effective gun control method, cutting down on illicit gun supply by targeting people who provide guns that are used by many rather than one.

The main problem I can see with this sort of arrangement is that the dealer would eventually end up with a few murder weapons on hand. I assume that some gangs use the guns for intimidation, but there are always going to be times when a rival needs to be eliminated. So, if there was a dealer who specialized in this market, he would need to also be an underground figure.

Also, having a central figure or company renting guns to gangs would likely make that entity or person a target of the gangs his weapons were used against.
posted by reenum at 5:55 PM on February 18, 2012


G2G
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 6:08 PM on February 18, 2012


Cool Papa Bell: "and in the early 90s, there were a ton of companies flooding the market with small pistols of shitty quality. My guess is that these "rentals" are mostly these shitty guns, still in circulation."

A few years ago there was a flood of these into the US market priced at around $100. I wonder how many of those have found their way into criminal circulation.
posted by the_artificer at 6:14 PM on February 18, 2012


Obama has even turned our gangsters into socialists!
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:45 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is unclear why. The economy? Times are tough — not everyone can afford a gun. “The gangs are younger, and their resources are less,” said Ed Talty, an assistant district attorney in the Bronx.

Assuming the ADA is correct, why exactly are their resources less. It really could be the economy no? Could be that gangs are now filled with 10 year olds buying guns with birthday money. Maybe the ADA is just fucking stupid.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:46 PM on February 18, 2012


This sort of thing should actually help the police. "Hey, Brian, we tested the gun we caught you with and it's been used to commit three murders. Now, we're going to charge you with those ... unless you can tell us who really did them."
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:51 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that a reason to kill someone? This is terrible reporting.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:14 PM on February 18, 2012


I wonder how many of those have found their way into criminal circulation.

Probably a bunch, but it looks like ammunition was a little unusual for that one (I had never heard of it).

A bigger problem were POS pistols by Lorcin, Phoenix and Charter Arms. PBS did a special on them.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:41 PM on February 18, 2012


Hyruleans have resorted to keeping their arrows in conspicuous pots

Oh, you think you've got it bad? Well, let me tell you. I live in one of the provinces hardest hit by the rupee crash, and we keep our arrows in conspicuous pots just like folks on the mainland, but in this economy you won't see anybody carryin' a bow. Only bow on the whole island's 980 rupees. Now, you can spend all day blowin' holes in the mountain lookin' for treasure, air fishin' in the sky rapids, regular fishin' in the pond and praying to the nameless patron crane god, but you won't see so much as 400 rupees. Only person who can afford luxury like that's the rich foreigner from the mainland with some kind of thing for Peter Pan.

Twenty years ago, my ma worked down at Sal's banana plantation, and my pa worked up at the Hen House, and between the two of them they earned a pretty nickel enough to buy this cozy little 3x3 cottage that my little ones were born in and I intend to die in. These days you can't earn that kind of money doing





Oh, hell. One of the quintuplets just told me that THIEF walked out with the one bow. Didn't even so much as pay for it. Now me and my little ones are gonna go hungry scroungin' for acorns and mushrooms. No way anyone in this household's going grocery shopping, with mean old Mr. Shopson standing in the doorway for a week just lookin' for somebody to set the fear of Fish into.

Mr. Owl says that life's just a dream. Every week I says to him, "Well," I says, "I'd better wake up in a big comfy feather bed with silk and satin sheets soon." And he laughs and laughs and laughs, Mr. Owl.

I don't like that laugh. Something mean to it. I figure we only got this owl problem on account of nobody's got a bow anymore, anyway.
posted by byanyothername at 7:59 PM on February 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Any of you ever see 'The Battle Of Algiers' ? This method goes back a ways.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:16 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So has anyone made an app for this yet? Find My iGlock?
posted by desjardins at 1:34 PM on February 19, 2012


Lenny could make some acerbic comment while Rey Curtis

Rey Curtis?? MIKE LOGAN FOREVER
posted by desjardins at 1:38 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had a friend who had a friend who knew some guys. The biggest change in their lives, in the early 90s, was that being caught on the streets of NYC with a gun became an enormous problem. People were going to jail for that shit! So, yeah, no one wanted to carry any more.

Now we read about it in the times.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:41 PM on February 19, 2012


asterix writes "'It's in that place where I left that thing that time."

That was a dead drop not a shared storage location.
posted by Mitheral at 8:55 PM on February 19, 2012


So has anyone made an app for this yet? Find My iGlock?

It does sound like something a cypherpunk would have developed an elaborate PKC-based protocol for, doesn't it, sharing the current locations and status of hidden guns with maximal deniability and detection of cheaters/defectors.
posted by hattifattener at 11:11 PM on February 19, 2012


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