THE BRONX - A group is handing out gun permit applications to bodega owners, saying having the weapons would help them defend themselves against robbers.

Fernando Mateo, president of Hispanics Across America, says the group will start a pilot program to arm the small business owners with fire power. The move comes less than a week after a deli owner was fatally shot during a robbery at his Queens store.

The city has proposed slashing the fee for a gun permit from $340 to between $25 and $110. Mateo says the cost change should encourage bodega owners to arm themselves.

The group will also ask that cameras be installed in all areas near bodegas by the police department.

Hispanics Across America president pushes plan to arm bodega owners