NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Quiet, upscale communities are some of the last places that you would expect to find criminals selling illegal guns. But, recent investigations have found that gun deals have gone down in some of New York’s nicest neighborhoods.
“It’s horrible to have to think that someone is selling guns on these corners while we have these little kids running around here,” Billy Vellios recently told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Criminals have been selling guns out in the open and residents had no idea.
“Not on the corner of East Third and Avenue Q, where there’s nice houses that sell for upwards of a million dollars,” a resident named “Esther” said.
There is no denying it. In a suburban neighborhood in Midwood at least one criminal tried to sell a loaded 9-millimeter to undercover police officers while residents went about their day unaware.
“That’s insane. I sit here on the porch while my kids ride their bikes and scooters,” Esther said.
From family oriented Borough Park to fashionable Chelsea, no neighborhood is immune. Police reports have shown that criminals have emerged from the shadows and shifted their business from high-crime neighborhoods to quiet communities.
“Guns are definitely being sold under people’s noses and they don’t know it. This is prime real estate if I want to do any illegal activities like sell guns,” one undercover officer explained.
The officer has put hundreds of illegal gun sellers behind bars.
“And the gun dealers don’t look like you typically think they look like. They can be anybody,” he said.
The officer added that the sellers barely conceal the often loaded weapons and carry them in shopping bags, laundry bags, even shoe boxes.
The weapons range from pistols to shotguns and sometimes even semiautomatics; powerful weapons that can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has sounded the alarm about illegal guns for years and so-called gun czar John Feinblatt said that problem often begins out-of-state.
Criminals often buy the weapons at gun shows in states like Arizona, where background checks aren’t required, and return to New York to sell them.
“They go into neighborhoods where they think people aren’t watching,” Feinblatt said.
Neighborhoods like a quiet residential street in Bensonhurst, where police recently busted a seller, or on 7th Avenue in Chelsea right outside of the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking to know what’s going on here,” one FIT student said.
In 2012 the NYPD took 2,179 illegal guns off of the street, Kramer reported.
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