Radio Free Montone: Shots Fired…Shrug

By John Montone, 1010 WINS

Shots shatter the New York night and some New Yorkers…shrug.

While questioning folks from different boroughs and neighborhoods  about a report that says there has been a spike in murders this year, I was reminded just how commonplace the sound of gunfire has become.

It was back in the dark and dangerous years of the crack cocaine kingpins arming their minions with automatic weapons that I first encountered that, “No big deal,” attitude about the discharging of bullets.  A student had been shot at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn.  The first student I encountered when I arrived told me in a most casual manner, “Dude got dusted.”

Dusted as in shot to death.  The victim was 16.  An innocent bystander as news reports began to identify many of those who went to their graves at an early age, riddled with bullets from cross-fire gun battles and drive-by shootings.

There were more than 2,000 murders a year in the city back then.  Last year there were 330.  And even the reported jump in homicides over the first three months of this year did not seem to alarm the people I spoke to.  They all told me New York is not the same violent place.  They feel safe here.

Even if some gangs with guns are still firing them on our streets.

Here’s a sample of what I heard.  30-year-old Justin from Brownsville says when he ventures outside around nine o’clock on a summer night, he hears, “A lot of shots.”  A young man from Bed-Stuy, a rapper I have come to know named Squalor Orphan, says money is moving into his neighborhood.  He says there are more police on patrol, but sure, “There’s still gunfire.”

Miquel also feels much safer in his West Farms, Bronx, neighborhood.  And while shots don’t ring out as often Miguel tells me, “There’s always gonna be gunfire, especially in the Bronx.”  And in Harlem, too.  Victor says he hears it less often but then asks, “Isn’t it everywhere?  Everywhere here in New York.  Gunshot is normal.”

Reacting to the report that showed an uptick in murders, the NYPD pointed out that over all crime is down another 10 percent this year.  And a middle-aged fellow I talked to about the new crime stats pointed to Times Square and said, “Remember how it used to be…when it was crazy, crazy.  It’s much better now.  Much, much better.”

This is all true. But it is also true that there are still too many illegal guns on our streets and so much gunfire that some folks figure, it’s just another sound of the city.

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