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The unending line of gun victims

Carey Gabay, legal counsel and aide to Gov.

Carey Gabay, legal counsel and aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was shot before the start of the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn on Sept. 7, 2015. Credit: Governor's Office; PIX11 News / Anthony DiLorenzo

It could have been any of us.

But this time, it was someone from the governor's office who was caught in the crossfire of a gang battle early Monday morning. Carey Gabay was shot in the head by a stray bullet, one of up to 30 that flew in Brooklyn.

Gabay epitomized the story of a self-made New Yorker. A native of the island of Jamaica, Gabay grew up in a housing project in the Bronx and graduated from Harvard University. After a stint at a private firm, he worked as assistant counsel to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and then for the Empire State Development Corp., the state's economic development arm. His wife is expecting their first child.

Gabay is yet another face, another name, another chapter in the ever-growing tragedy of gun violence. Too often, such incidents stem from far larger societal issues at work. In New York City, it's gang violence. On Long Island, a heroin epidemic is leading to a bigger trouble spot: the increase in armed robberies by addicts seeking cash. Conditions are ripe for a tragedy that mirrors the Father's Day massacre in 2011, when an addict seeking pills killed four people inside Haven Drugs in Medford. Unless more is done, it may be just a matter of time.

Gabay's story is all too familiar, and heartbreakingly sad, even as his ties to Cuomo added a bigger spotlight. It comes amid ongoing debates about crime and policing. Ultimately, what's important is that the guns are here, held by gang members and drug addicts who don't care who gets hurt -- and innocent New Yorkers are dying.

It's up to politicians and policing leaders to address the bigger issues. Families must be able to walk down the street, shop at a store or celebrate who they are without being afraid. Is that really too much to ask?