New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez wants to make it easier for bodega owners to obtain guns, following the murder of two Bronx deli workers in separate shootings in the span of a week.

Rodriguez, who represents neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan, floated the idea during a rally held in the Bronx on Wednesday to honor Mohammed Qutaish, the 20-year-old clerk fatally shot on Tuesday following a dispute with a teenage customer.

Several groups, including the Yemeni American Merchants Association, called for the city to install "panic buttons" inside bodegas, allowing workers to quickly summon police during an emergency. But Rodriguez went a step further in his remarks.

"I also call for the city of New York to explore the possibility of allowing deli and bodega owners to go through the process to get a permit to have a weapon, too," he said.

"I believe the owners of these establishments, they should be allowed to apply and be able to have arms," Rodriguez continued, citing an "epidemic" of violence against deli clerks.

On Friday night, Yahya Alumnster, a 34-year-old Bronx bodega worker, was fatally shot while working the counter at B&A Gourmet Deli in Mott Haven. Rodriguez also pointed to a murder outside a bodega in his Washington Heights district this past September.

He also invoked the killing of Tessa Majors, a Barnard Student, in Morningside Park, and urged police to treat the recent deaths of deli workers with the same priority. "When something happens that affects an upper class neighborhood, immediately there's an aggressive plan," he said.

It's unclear what Rodriguez's proposal to arm deli workers would actually entail. A spokesperson for his office did not respond to Gothamist's inquiries.

New York has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. The process of applying for a firearm license in the city is particularly arduous for recent immigrants: Those who've lived in the US for less than seven years must submit a good conduct certificate from their country of origin and two reference letters to certify their good character.

But bodega employees and owners who spoke with Gothamist/WNYC on Wednesday were unanimously opposed to the idea of carrying weapons.

"If we have the ability to carry a gun, you know how many problems we're going to have?" said Adam Samat, the owner of a bodega on White Plains Road, a few blocks from where Qutaish was killed. "People get upset over little things."

"Before we talk about getting a gun license, we need to fix the neighborhood," he added.

Following the event, the Yemeni American Merchant Association, which organized the press conference, made clear that they did not support the councilman's proposal.

"The default is not going to be that we should equip people with more arms to try to combat violence," said the group's executive director, Abraham Aiyash.