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New York police charging "community gun" owners with conspiracy

Recently, law enforcement officials in New York have accused street gangs in New York City of using new tactics in concealing the ownership of weapons to evade detection. They are reportedly using "community guns," where the gang members do not actually own the weapon but have access to it to commit violent crimes.

The guns are allegedly stored in places such as mailboxes, garbage cans or underneath car wheels. These "community guns" are supposedly used to patrol drug territory, but police allege they have occasionally been used for other shootings. New York police have been attempting to crack down on violent crime by arresting over two dozen alleged gang members and confiscating over a dozen weapons. Law enforcement officials are charging alleged gang members caught with these supposed "community guns" with conspiracy.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right of Americans to own firearms, although this right is subject to limitations by state and federal law. Under the Brady Act, felons cannot own firearms, and many state laws restrict who can carry a firearm and in what manner. These restrictions are intended to prevent gun violence, although when authorities announce a "crackdown" to the media, they will likely be looking to charge anyone and everyone they can in an effort to show that their efforts were successful.

Anyone accused of possession of a firearm is entitled to a vigorous criminal defense. He or she is entitled to question any witnesses the state provides, challenge the admissibility of the state's evidence, and call into question the constitutionality of the charges or the court's proceedings. Nobody who faces firearm charges has to accept the charges and the severe consequences without the opportunity to defend themselves in court.

Source: NBC New York, "I-Team: Gangs' 'Community Guns' Make It Harder to Catch Shooters, Police Say," Shimon Prokupecz and Jonathan Dienst, Dec. 6, 2012.

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