Times are tough even for gang members

Hence the “community gun”

Hidden and shared by a small group of people who use them when needed, and are always sure to return them, such guns appear to be rising in number in New York, according to the police. It is unclear why. The economy? Times are tough — not everyone can afford a gun. “The gangs are younger, and their resources are less,” said Ed Talty, an assistant district attorney in the Bronx.

Or perhaps it’s not that there are more communal guns, but rather, that they are easier to identify through forensic science.

“We get a lot more ballistic matches than we ever have before,” Lieutenant Ruane said. “It’s amazing. You go, how the hell did that match up to that shooting? It’s a different command, a different borough, Brooklyn or something.”

The two men who opened the Bronx mailbox may have been momentarily surprised by what they found inside — nothing. But they simply went to another hiding spot in the building, in a bag under the stairs, the police said. The building was routinely referred to as “Vietnam,” a name coined during more violent times in the 1980s.

There was the gun.

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