Guns in the Housing Projects?

While we were graduate students we and a few other students were invited to live in the General Grant Housing Project on 125th in lower West Harlem. The aim was to initiate some desegregation there where virtually all residents were either African American or Latino/a. It worked well for us and our neighbors for a few years until ended off by protests that we were being given special admission advantages.

While we were there we became active in correcting some of the failings in the system such as no weekend elevator repairs which was disastrous when both went out in a 21 story building. Another major problem was crime or at least the use of our stairwells by outsiders to deal or use drugs. Again we were able to get locks put on our entrances which kept out these strangers. Now the project has an effective community leadership. But one cannot help but worry about the prospects of guns in projects. Some residents have relatives with criminal records and I would hate to imagine the anxiety that would be caused by the prospect that some mean character who entered one’s elevator was also armed.

We had a murder committed near the project by teens who lived there — but with knives, not guns. It is teens who are fascinated with weapons and who are most likely to use guns to rob and kill. They are always the most dangerous perps because they are likely to panic and lash out. All of our family’s personal encounters with crime have been with such kids — but they were not armed with guns.

I cannot imagine how the Supreme Court could have opened this door which will endanger not only residents but also those who protect them from crimes — police, security guards, etc. How stupid can this court get. When I began teaching philosophy of law we had a Supreme Court of which we could be proud. Those of us in legal fields have watched the decline with a string of politicized appointments from the right who seem to operate according to some sick ideology rather that the grand tradition of the rule of law.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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