Group wants to arm bodega owners

October 28, 2010 3:13:54 PM PDT
In a proposal certain to cause controversy, a group is pushing an idea to arm bodega owners with guns to help fight would-be robbers.

The bodega owners behind this movement are tired of being sitting ducks and they believe it's time to defend themselves.

Hispanics Across America members hit the streets and handed out gun applications to bodega owners in Hamilton Heights.

"Operation Guns for All" is a city wide grass roots effort to get guns legally in the hands of the bodegaeros.

"We need protection. We need something to defend ourselves," said Ramon Murphy.

City councilman Robert Jackson responded saying, "I'm not concerned about the licensed gun owner. I'm concerned but the unlicensed gun owner."

Jackson and the group's leader Fernando Mateo say it's a message to criminals "If you rob a bodega you can lose your life."

Mateo points out getting a gun legally just got easier. "This will make it affordable for bodegeros to get a gun," he said.

Mayor Bloomberg has also responded saying,"Fernando Mateo's got a right to do that. We are, we make it, we do an awful lot of research before we give a carry permit or a permit to have a gun in your home in New York City. We take it very seriously. We try to be in compliance with the law."

This all comes on the heals of the murder of Juan Torres, a husband and father of four who was killed when his bodega was robbed.

It's the third time in a decade the Torres family has lost a relative during a bodega robbery.

Victim's niece says "Just the thought of having a weapon will make them think twice. At least those victims have a chance to protect themselves not like my uncles who were murdered in front of their children," said Albania Torres.

The group is also asking for a mandatory program where bodegas must have cameras and that police enforce.

Do you have something to add to this story? Click here ot contact Eyewitness News.