Coronavirus crime worries are making New Yorkers want guns

With thousands of cops out sick, cocky criminals on the loose, and people running out of money for food and rent because of COVID-19, the Rosario sisters of Staten Island want to arm themselves for what they fear could be a coming crime surge.

Nicole Rosario, 35, a stay-at-home mother,  is angry that she can’t get a gun.

“It’s my constitutional right,” she said. “But that doesn’t seem to matter. I live in New York which means it’s impossible. That’s crazy and unfair.”

The FBI reported a 300 percent increase in gun sales across the country in March, compared to the same period a year ago.  But New Yorkers are shut out, with the Empire State one of only five states where gun stores have closed, despite recent guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security saying they should be considered essential business.

And forget about even applying for a firearm permit in NYC; the NYPD has closed its licensing office.

Rosario’s sister Christine, 32, is going to ask her boyfriend to move in with her because he already has a gun.

Even pepper spray, sold legally in pharmacies, is in short supply.

That leaves self-defense courses as one of the last viable options.

Cassie Kramer, 46, who works in the fashion industry, said she’s signed up for free online SMASH self-defense classes for women offered by the Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy. The school closed their studio because of coronavirus but pivoted online.

“I’ve been living in the East Village and other occasionally tough neighborhoods for a long time,” Kramer said. “But for the first time, I’m going outside and I get a bad tingling feeling. The streets are empty and it doesn’t feel right. I know there aren’t a lot of cops out and it’s just a reality that people could get very desperate.”

Kramer is also mindful of the 1,500 inmates have been released from city jails in the last few weeks.

High-profile crimefighters past and present also foresee a long, hot, criminal summer.

“It’s going to be every man for himself again,” said Curtis Sliwa, who founded the Guardian Angels in the infamous summer of 1977, when Son of Sam was on the loose.

“The wealthy see the plywood going up on the Madison Avenue shops and think riots,” he said. “But even if the criminals come to Park Avenue, rich people will buy themselves protection. It’s Park Avenue in Brooklyn we should worry about.

“The thugs feel the fear out there. They see cops aren’t getting out of their squad cars. That’s when bad stuff happens.”

NYC crime has fallen in the few weeks since coronavirus stay-at-home orders, with a surge in commercial burglaries and auto theft being the notable exceptions, according to the NYPD.

Bernie Kerik, the police boss during 9/11, remembered how crime also dropped for three weeks after the attacks — then it returned and spiked.

“This is different and could be worse,” Kerik said. “If this shutdown continues through May, it’ll drive people into poverty. Many won’t qualify for government programs or unemployment. These people have to feed their families. Meanwhile, the criminals are emboldened.”

Former cop and private investigator Bo Dietl agreed.

“Angry people are dangerous people. We’re getting a lot of calls from rich people who want extra security,” he said. “People without money are going to resent the 1 percent who got tested or who got medical care.”

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