Armed robbers shot by off-duty NY corrections officer

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

New York City’s gun laws are hopefully going to be changing for the better in the not-too-distant future, but for now bearing arms in self-defense is still off-limits to most residents, at least legally. In order to obtain a carry permit in the city (and state), you must first demonstrate that you have some sort of special need or unique circumstance that makes you acutely vulnerable to being the victim of a violent crime, and “it’s my right” or “I live in a bad neighborhood and want to protect myself” aren’t seen as justifiable reasons to issue a permit or to lawfully carry a gun.

As a result, armed citizen stories are pretty rare circumstances in New York; certainly much more uncommon than unarmed victims being targeted by armed criminals. Every now and then, however, you’ll run across a story featuring violent criminals who had the bad luck to choose one of the few New Yorkers who can legally carry a gun; in this case an off-duty corrections officer who thought he had scored a date only to find himself suckered.

The correction officer thought he was meeting 21-year-old Diamond Sanchez for a date about 6 p.m. Saturday — but she had other plans for him, the sources said.

Police did not release the name of the correction officer, who’s in his 20s. A law enforcement said the victim works for the New York State Corrections Department.

The victim and Sanchez were sitting in a car at E. 183rd St. and Tiebout St. in Fordham Heights, when two men, Christopher Santana, 22, and Leonel Cuevas, 26, walked up to them, the sources said.

One of the duo pulled out a gun and demanded the correction officer’s belongings, but the victim was armed as well, opening fire from inside the vehicle, the sources said.

The correction officer shot Cuevas multiple times in the chest and blasted Santana in the stomach, back and hip.

Both of the wounded men were taken to a local hospital, and it looks like they’ll recover from their injuries. The two men are now facing charges of armed robbery and criminal possession of a weapon, and Sanchez has been charged with the same crime as well as one count of tampering with evidence for allegedly grabbing the gun used by the suspects and attempting to conceal it from responding law enforcement.

Now, I don’t begrudge the off-duty corrections officer for being allowed to lawfully carry a firearm, though it’s probably worth pointing out that Democrats in Albany proposed a bill last year that would have prevented them from doing so. No, my issue is that there are millions of New Yorkers who are being denied their right to do the same because the city and state insist on treating the right to bear arms as a legal fiction.

New York starts with the proposition that no one is allowed to bear arms, and only those who meet specific criteria are granted permission by the state or city to do so. That’s not how rights work, and it’s now up to the Supreme Court to make that fact crystal clear to New York officials, who are going to continue to play games with our right of self-defense unless SCOTUS lays out an opinion that makes it impossible to do so.

Let’s hope the pending decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen delivers, because the status quo isn’t just a clear violation of the constitutional rights of New Yorkers. It’s a deadly double-standard that empowers violent criminals at the expense of the law-abiding, and unarmed victims are paying the price on a daily basis.