Ending Support For Gun Violence

November 28, 2011

The big local politicians are forced by the public to restore funding for a successful effort to stop random shootings in Albany’s neighborhoods

The other day I was doing some repair work to a house at the bottom of Third Avenue in the South End. It seems that the problem tenant on the first floor had torn the front door of his apartment off the hinges and was loudly complaining that someone needs to fix it right now. Such tenants with an appetite for destruction are all too common in a City where the top politicians have been hot to destroy the very community that they govern.

This repair work was not for myself, mind you. This house was acquired and renovated years ago by the South End Improvement Corporation (SEIC,) which is a neighborhood agency that desperately tries to keep South End houses from disintegrating. Since the Albany City government is slowly strangling SEIC by “diverting” funding, there was currently no money available to fix this door. Thus, as a member of the board of SEIC, I was down on Third Avenue to do a little free of charge emergency repair work.

Bottom Of Third Avenue, Sunday Morning Bottom Of Third Avenue, Sunday Morning

I had just gotten started replacing the top hinge when I heard a shotgun blast. My first thought was No, it couldn’t be, who the hell has a shotgun around here? Sandra Obiedo, the director of SEIC, who was more or less assisting me with the door, said “That’s sounded like a shotgun.” She peered out the open front door of the building.

I peered out behind her, and noticed a police car blocking the top of the block that we were on. I heard another cop car engine roar past on the next block over beyond the houses across the street. No sirens, they were approaching a Situation. That’s when we heard the next shotgun blast.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a shotgun fired among a dense collection of buildings. It is intensely loud, like artillery or perhaps what a “drone air strike” sounds like. (Perhaps those are coming to the South End soon.) A teenaged fellow walking on the other side of the street ducked down behind a parked car, like us he looked around for the source of the blast.

The one thing we knew for sure was that the shotgun was not fired on this block, a sound like that would have made us drop flat to the ground or scramble for cover inside the house. I prudently stepped inside and remained alert. But after a few moments Sandra stepped down the front stoop saying, “I’ll go see what I can find out.”

New Houses On Catherine Street Across From The SEIC Offices New Houses On Catherine Street Across From The SEIC Offices

I don’t know if that was a dumb thing for her to do or smart, but she returned several minutes later. “I couldn’t find anybody who knows what’s going on, but it happened around the corner on Tuenis Street.” I noticed the cop car at the top of the block was moving away without hurrying.

I never found out what happened, why someone would fire a shotgun in such a densely populated neighborhood. I saw nothing in the daily dead tree rags, and the cops I mentioned this to looked puzzled. Such incidents don’t stand out in their minds unless the Situation involves something like a killing.

Well I hung the door to the apartment and it worked fine, but we didn’t quite leave before the problem tenant came home. Naturally the jerk started in on Sandra for taking so long to fix the door that he busted, calling her every vile curse and phrase that his little brain could think of at the top of his lungs. Sandra reacted by getting in his face which only escalated the situation, I had to push her three times into my truck before we could get away. But you don’t need to hear about that.

But I think you do need to hear that gunshots in the South End are nothing new. What’s new is that the Albany Police are responding to these incidents. And what I saw the other day is that they are responding quickly and effectively. I still barely believe that denial of service has ended.

South End Improvement Corporation (SEIC) Offices On Catherine Street South End Improvement Corporation (SEIC) Offices On Catherine Street

Back at the SEIC offices next to Schuyler Mansion (rent: $1 per year) I talked to Sandra’s assistant Yolanda. She told me this incident is not at all unusual. “We hear gunshots around here all the time,” she said.

I said to her, “I live three blocks in that direction and we never hear gunshots.” Yolanda nodded, she didn’t need me to tell her that. Granted those are three long blocks all uphill, but still. This is one of those things that are literally right next door but might as well be on the other side of the world.

There are two matters going on here, the first I’ll mention briefly. The City government created this situation where a few dozen buttholes with guns terrorize this neighborhood in the heart of the South End. And until a few years ago the City actively maintained and protected these few dozen buttholes and their right to terrorize the neighborhood.

Seriously, that’s been City policy, but that policy is currently changing. Mayor Jerry Jennings no longer has the power to suppress redevelopment and law enforcement here in the South End. Responsible people are taking over from the mayor and we are beginning to see positive results all over the City.

Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Cuomo At The Capital In 2010 Taking Credit For a Gun And Drug Bust In Downtown Albany Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Cuomo At The Capital In 2010 Taking Credit For a Gun And Drug Bust In Downtown Albany

The other matter, a big one, is gun policy. We all know how for decades the corporate media has used the gun rights issue as a way to divide people into two opposing camps. This descent into idiocy, now endorsed by the anti-American idiots who control the US Supreme Court, has created confusion about the rights of gun ownership and of enforcement, confusion that is felt in our South End neighborhoods.

About four years ago I made a study of the Second Amendment, that flawed part of the Bill of Rights that deals very poorly with guns. After wading through piles of bullcrap I discovered an amazing little fact that rarely gets mentioned. You see, the actual wording of the Second Amendment was created as a compromise by a closed committee of Congress, a meeting of which there is no record, official or otherwise.

Whatever ideas and phrases apparently went into that committee, and that part of the process has been well examined, what came out is verbal garbage. This badly written sentence meant absolutely nothing back in 1791, and it means even less today (if that’s possible.) But you have to hand it to those guys, their meaningless “compromise wording” was not seriously challenged for nearly two hundred years.

To put it plainly, the Second Amendment makes no sense. Anyone who says otherwise is bullcrapping. Try this exercise, read the sentence without ideology. Pretend that you’re seeing it for the first time:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.