New York City has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country, at least if you’re an adult. Caught carrying a gun without a license? If you’re over 18, you could be looking at a mandatory prison sentence. If you’re a juvenile, on the other hand, the chances are you’ll get off with a slap on the wrist and a quick visit to juvenile detention.
Take the case of Brandon Perez. The 15-year old is now charged with fatally stabbing 17-year old Ethan Borges in mid-September, but as Borges’ family has detailed, Perez was already on the radar of local law enforcement and the courts thanks to several recent incidents.
Brandon Perez had racked up four arrests — including two for possession of a loaded gun — in the course of 10 months before he was nabbed Saturday in the Sept. 17 murder of Ethan Borges.
The slain teen’s uncle said Perez, 15, shouldn’t have been out in the first place.
“If you don’t lock this kid up — who you know is a dirtbag and has no respect for you or the law or anyone — he’s going to be back out in the street before you’re finished fingerprinting him,” Michael Petry told The Post.
Perez has a grand larceny arrest from November and a gun possession case in December — both in the Bronx, sources said.
His second most recent bust was on Sept. 4 for second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in Manhattan.
And he has a sealed arrest for grand larceny, sources said.
The accused killer is being prosecuted as a juvenile in his older cases, which are being handled in Family Court, according to sources and court officials.
While Perez is a high-profile example of the leniency shown to juvenile offenders, his is far from the only case involving juveniles and guns in New York. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that even the soft-on-crime New York City Council is demanding that “something” be done at the state level to lock up young offenders.
“New Yorkers deserve justice but also deserve safety. Currently, many New Yorkers do not have access to the latter. In many neighborhoods, people hear gunshots every day,” reads the letter, signed by 20 Council members as of Thursday afternoon. “This problem will not end unless we take action.”
They call for an unspecified “fix” to a process that they say facilitates the “almost-immediate release of individuals arrested for gun violence, through [a] process in which their case is transferred to a family court.”
“The violence has been a direct result of laws that have had the unintended effect of allowing people participating in gun violence to be released from custody within hours of their arrest — sending a dangerous message to would-be perpetrators,” the letter reads. “We … write to respectfully implore you to fix state laws related to the carrying of unlawful firearms, to help draw a proper balance with justice and safety.”
This isn’t really a difficult problem to solve, except for the fact that the Democrats in control of New York government would rather craft legislation aimed at guns instead of the criminal misuse of firearms. The actual perpetrators of violent crime are an afterthought to too many lawmakers who are fully invested in the idea of banning and regulating their way to safety. As a result, the average adult cannot obtain a license to carry in New York and faces a mandatory prison sentence if they’re caught carrying an unlicensed firearm, but a juvenile who’s not even old enough to legally possess a firearm (much less carry one) faces little to no consequences if they are discovered with a pistol in their pocket.
I have a fix for the New York City Council, though I don’t think they’re going to like it. First, scrap New York’s subjective “may issue” carry laws and recognize the right of the people to bear arms in self-defense. Once they’ve stopped criminalizing a constitutional right, they can focus on reforming the juvenile justice system to ensure that young offenders actually face consequences for their actions.
One more thing: quit with the talk of “gun violence” when the issue is actually just violence. Once again, look at the case of Brandon Perez. Yes he was caught with a gun on two occasions, but he’s also accused of stabbing a 17-year old to death. Is that murder any less important or any more acceptable because it wasn’t an act of “gun violence”? Instead of myopically focusing on the implements used by young violent criminals, the city and state should be paying more attention to the juvenile offenders themselves. Don’t just do “something” in other words. Do something that matters.