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Bang for the buck: Harlem residents show scars from easily-obtained weapons

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At the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem, illegal gun violence isn’t some abstract concept, involving some other town, or some other neighborhood.

Here…it’s personal.

“Yeah I got shot three times,” one young man told PIX11, showing his bullet scars on his arm, leg and back.

The victims of these violent outbursts are evidence of the growing problem of illegal access to guns.

It’s a topic Betty Irby was eager to discuss.  “I’ve been a social worker for approximately now, 23 years. I have a son and a daughter who are 38 and 34. I’ve always taught them about gun control.”  Irby continued, “I’m from Alabama. I believe in guns. You have people getting guns who shouldn’t have guns. We needed a gun. We had the KKK. We had white supremacy after us, so we needed to protect ourselves. And that’s what we did.”

It’s never been easier to make the distinction between families owning a gun for protection and others who would criminally obtain a weapon in order to inflict harm.

Mayor Bloomberg – who heads ups the “Mayors against Illegal Guns” Council — says websites like armslist.com allow even convicted felons to bypass background checks and other security measures by purchasing weapons from private owners.

“Not only are criminals buying guns online, they’re doing so brazeningly, by openly advertising that they want to buy them,” said Mayor Bloomberg Wednesday.

In light of this week’s shooting massacre in the nation’s capital it’s clear we no longer have to worry about just the criminals.

Back in 2010, police arrested a former Stuyvesant High School teacher for selling guns to undercover officers for more than a year.

And just last month, an NYPD cop was busted for smuggling military-grade guns to his native Philippines.

Retired NYPD Detective Nick Casale says some illegal purchases might be prevented – if federal law required that law enforcement get the opportunity to thoroughly interview a weapons buyer before the deal goes down.

“There are more guns in the United States than people. The New York City Police Department procedure under Ray Kelly in order to get a handgun permit  should be . . . the standard across the country,”, Casale said.

The goal, says social worker Betty Irby, should be to keep guns out of the hands of people like Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis — but accessible to people who really need them.

“I’m a social worker. I almost got killed by going to house visits. Someone almost choked me to death,” said Ms. Irby.  “I have a permit to carry a gun.”

PIX11 asked Ms. Irby is she was carrying one at that moment. She quickly replied, “What do you think? Are you?”  When the reporter replied ‘no’, she ended the exchange coyly, saying, “Ok. I won’t answer.”