Reporting Carol D’Auria
NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) – After yet another murder last week of a bodega owner by an armed robber, there’s a push to put guns in the hands of these small business owners so they can defend themselves.
But are more guns the answer?
Fernando Mateo of Hispanics Across America said Thursday when it comes to safety, bodega owners are at a distinct disadvantage.
“We want to make sure that, these criminals, when they enter one of these bodegas, to try to rob these sitting ducks, as we may say, know that their lives may end as well,” Mateo said.
Standing next to him was the family of Juan Torres, the third member of their family murdered over the past decade while working in a bodega.
“I don’t know if weapons are the solution. But they do have them. Why not give the ones that are doing the right thing the chance to have them too?” said Albania Torres, the victim’s niece.
Their concern is that the bodegas are easy pickings. They’re open 24 hours a day, and they always have cash on hand.
But we couldn’t find one bodega worker who thought he’d be better off armed.
“I’m all right. I don’t need it,” Ali Ahmad said.
Rafael Arias also told CBS 2’s Don Dahler he feels safe in his neighborhood.
Some residents are also questioning the program.
“It’s a bad idea, very bad,” said Queens resident Lina Jemmot. “We don’t need any more guns on the street.”
A news conference will be held Thursday afternoon to announce the program.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently lowered the cost of a gun license from $340 to between $25 and $110, but proposed revisions will make getting a permit even harder.
“We do an awful lot of research before we give a carry permit or a permit to have a gun in your home. In New York City we take it very seriously,” Bloomberg said.
Nevertheless, Mateo and his group are determined to give all bodega owners the option, and they’re passing out gun permit applications to every store owner.
The group also wants a law requiring surveillance cameras in every bodega, but, they said, that’s not enough.
“We need protection. We need something in the hand we can defend,” bodega association president Ramon Murphy said.
As for the most recently murdered bodega owner, Juan Torres, his body was sent home to the Dominican Republic on Thursday to be buried.