A Dorchester man desperate to get out of the gun trade dropped a stash of 1,500 rounds of high-powered ammunition on the highest profile community leader he could think of: the Rev. Eugene Rivers.
Rivers, floored by the amount of firepower, including a 66-round Tommy gun cylinder
arranged to turn over the arsenal to Boston police today.
``This is bad. It got turned in to a preacher,'' Rivers, president of the Ella J. Baker House in Dorchester, said last night. ``This Tommy gun thing is mind-boggling. What else is out there?'
According to the 28-year-old man whose name Rivers did not reveal, tons more ammunition and firearms are circulating on the streets of Boston where Rivers contends the illegal gun trade has become a growth industry.
``He said he wanted help. He wanted to get out, that he was jammed up,'' Rivers said.
So Rivers offered to hear him out. Forty-five minutes later, he came into possession of more weaponry than the minister ever wanted to see.
``The fact that young men are willing to surrender this kind of ammunition is clear evidence that significant numbers of young people want to do the right thing and live law-abiding lives,'' Rivers said. ``The surrender of this ammunition is a clear cry for help.
``Kids need to see there are better ways to entrepreneurship than guns.''
The bullet cache surfaces as Boston police have recruited help from federal and state agencies to help rein in a wave of violence that has pushed the city's body count to 45 so far this year. Boston had 28 murders by this time last year and 40 for all of 2003.
``We have challenged the black community to step up. Mayor Menino and Commissioner O'Toole have stepped up,'' Rivers said. ``Now it is time for the business leadership and the larger philanthropic community to join this battle to save poor children's lives.''
But local Nation of Islam leader Minister Don Muhammad disagreed with the notion that guns may be supplanting drugs as the underworld trade du jour.
``Drugs and guns are like peanut butter and jelly,'' he said. ``Without drugs, you don't need the guns. It's the drug business that is fueling the violence and the need for guns in the community. When you have a loss of jobs and poor-paying jobs, you're going to have a rise in drugs.''