Today’s news:

Sandy Scammers

TimesLedger Newspapers

A plumber who has been working in the Rockaways and the south shore of Staten Island since Hurricane Sandy hit warns that unlicensed and poorly trained hacks posing as plumbers are incorrectly telling storm victims that it is safe to turn on their heat and hot water when any real plumber would know it is not.

The state and city share his concern. Homeowners seeking post-Sandy repair work should be wary of scammers looking to take advantage of a difficult situation, they said.

Borough President Helen Marshall said the city Rapid Repairs program has made assessments on almost 2,600 Queens homes. And, she said, the program is free.

Officials say that it is important to make sure anyone making repairs to plumbing or heating is licensed. Hiring an unlicensed plumber or scam artist, they say, could put your home at risk.

The Gun Culture

Sportscaster Bob Costas has been raked over the coals for suggesting that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for the modern-day gun culture and the “easy access” the public has to guns.

Critics from the National Rifle Association to former basketball star Charles Barkley reacted strongly to his commentary. Barkley said he feels safer with a gun in his car and the CEO of the NRA rambled on about the U.S. Constitution and the “right to bear arms.”

We invite the critics of Costas to come to southeast Queens to witness the effects of gun violence. Too many times this year we have reported about innocent victims who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Belcher was a strong and volatile man, but we agree with Costas: If he didn’t have a gun, he might still have hurt his girlfriend, but neither would be dead.

Clearly the Constitution’s framers did not envision a day when young punks high on alcohol and drugs would have easy access to semi-automatic weapons.

In his Sunday night commentary, Costas paraphrased Fox Sports Web columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote that access to guns “simply ensures that more and more disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy.”

No one in southeast Queens can deny that is true.

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