Concerns rising over easy access to handguns

(KGO)

June 7, 2012 4:45:30 PM PDT
There have been two officer-involved shootings in the past two days in two Bay Area cities. In both cases, police say the suspects were young and armed and that's raising concern over the easy accessibility of handguns.

Last year, there were five officer-involved shootings in Oakland. This year, there have already been five. The suspect who was shot there last night is a San Lorenzo man who police say was packing.

The proliferation of guns on the streets and the boldness of young people who own them astound even veteran cops. "Year-to-date, we've recovered over 400 firearms. So, what we have is an epidemic in terms of the amount of guns that are out on the streets," OPD Assistant Police Chief Anthony Toribio told ABC7 News.

On Tuesday, South San Francisco police say an officer shot and killed a 15-year-old who brandished a gun at a gas station. Then on Wednesday night, Oakland police say one of their officers shot and wounded a 22-year-old who also had a pistol. It happened as police were patrolling the area around 105th Avenue and E Street because of recent shootings and robberies. They say the suspect ran just after police pulled over his car.

"During the struggle, one of the officers noticed the suspect had armed himself with a gun. The officer perceived a threat to the officers' lives and discharged their firearm striking the subject," Toribio explained.

In Oakland, major crimes are up 19 percent compared to last year. Homicides are also up as are rapes, burglaries, and robberies. However, last month it was a different picture. "If you're talking year-to-date, crime is up, but if you're looking at the last 30 days, we have seen a significant reduction in crime," OPD spokesperson Johnna Watson said.

That reduction has a lot to do with a joint federal ATF and Oakland police operation called "Gideon." In just four months, the strike force removed 92 guns from the streets of the city and arrested 90 people, many of them violent criminals who used guns to commit their offenses.

The 22-year-old man shot in Oakland Wednesday night is expected to recover from his wounds. He was on probation for a gun conviction.


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