CRIME: The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

According to one popular notion, the Mafia gang war in New York City is a quick, convenient and highly effective method of crime control. Mobsters slaying mobsters, the theory holds, makes for fewer mobsters. Even if that cynical hypothesis were morally acceptable, it would break down, because the gunplay between New York's embattled clans, which has claimed 23 known victims in the past 14 months, is being carried on by some singularly inept, trigger-happy hoods.

Three weeks ago, for example, a muscleman named Carlo Lombardi strolled into the Raveniti Social Club, a...