November 15, 2001
6:56 AM   Subscribe

"I’d keep guns off the streets if I could -- keep them off people, off cops, off everybody. They’re just built to kill people, and that’s no good. Sometimes I feel like turning people in -- like when there’s a shooting in front of my house. But something always stops me. I grew up in this place. I knew these people before they even started dealing with guns. Those are the people who watch my back when I need them. They’re like family -- I can’t turn them in." Jesus Gonzalez reports on the illegal handgun trade in Brooklyn, NY, as part of a Marketplace series on the underground economy.
posted by sudama (6 comments total)
Crime goes down because the community gets tired of it.

If only this were true. Great article, though, sudama. Will the Wild West never end?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:05 AM on November 15, 2001

I thought it was a good read.
posted by trioperative at 7:15 AM on November 15, 2001

I was hoping to talk about the underground economy more broadly -- this is a really fascinating series. In one installment, they talk to a bookie about how NY city and state took over the numbers game and the customers got an even worse deal than when the mob was running things. Not a revelation, but a great perspective on the issue.

In another, we get the story of one woman's summer job in home pot delivery in uptown Manhattan: "I’m feeling an incredible affinity for this job lately -- three day work week, ambling around the city, looking at people in shop windows, dogs, trees, going into everyone’s apartments and seeing how they live, handling thick piles of cash, feeling like a general bad ass."
posted by sudama at 7:18 AM on November 15, 2001

Very interesting stuff. Thanks for this. I heard Jesus Gonzalez on the radio with a NY cabbie two days ago and had been trying to track this down.
posted by Voyageman at 7:54 AM on November 15, 2001

Legalization would bring the drug trade "above ground." And it would generate lots of tax dollars. Unfortunately, most people don't realize that legalization is not the same thing as government sanction or endorsement. While I applaud NY and CA law enforcement for exercising surprisingly intelligent discretion, it is hypocracy (albeit a forced one). Tacit acceptance of polite drug trade, in defiance of criminal law, undermines the legitimacy of law enforcement, and supports the sociopolitical outcasts' impression of "the man" as self-serving, unpredictably arbitrary, and anything but principalled and disciplined.
posted by yesster at 8:27 AM on November 15, 2001

Well, as the part about gambling illustrates, the gov's stance on many issues is often arbitrary. The only difference poker and lottery is: w/ poker you might have a chance to win some money. I think poker's illegal mostly becoz of the reputation, the mental image people get when they think of poker games. Criminals in dimly lit smoke-filled rooms, w/ a lookout at the door for the cops.

It's illegal because it's illegal, in other words :) (and that goes for many other things as well, drugs, prostitution, etc.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:02 AM on November 15, 2001

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