Monday, March 21, 2005

Guns, Violence and Philadelphia

Over the last few months, gun violence in Philadelphia has dominated the news. While I support gun control legislation, it has never been an issue at the forefront of my thinking. I am not sure why, as it is clearly a fundamental problem for anyone confronting life in American cities. There are no excuses any more for people to ignore this issue, after some of the most deadly weeks in the city's history. There are too many guns on the streets, too many grieving families and too many lives cut short to ignore this problem anymore.

Read this Tom Ferrick piece from yesterday's Inquirer, as it is a good starting point. I agree wholeheartedly with the piece, as his outrage at our state legislature is the right target. They have shown that their loyalty is to the gun lobby, rural Pennsylvanians and an ideology. A poor reading of the Second Amendment trumps the concerns and lives of Philadelphians. As Ferricks writes:

I'll be more direct. Gun violence is viewed in Harrisburg as a "Philadelphia problem," which is to say a black problem. The majority of homicide victims and perps in the city are African American males under the age of 30.

So, the reasoning goes, why spend political capital and incur the wrath of the National Rifle Association over a bunch of lowlife blacks in Philly?

Finally, someone has the balls to tell the truth. Does anyone doubt that this is the thought process going on in Harrisburg? Can anyone defend this, without reading from the NRA talking points? I can't help but wonder what it would take to get them to act in our interest, since clearly headlines, dead bodies and crying parents don't do it. I mean, the Representative in Ferrick's column who will kill the one-gun-a-month bill is from Philly! Rep. Dennis O'Brien has to answer what he is doing about the violence in the city, come to our neighborhoods and tell us what his plan is to make our city safer. If he can't, he must be defeated. Here is his contact info, so write, call, email and see what he says.

I like the piece of legislation brought by Rep. John Myers in Ferrick's piece, which would allow a person to buy only one gun per month. It strikes at the street salesmen, who purchase as many guns as they want and resell them to those whose criminal records prevent them from making legal purchases. What are the objections to this law? What do you think? What are other proposals to stem the violence?

Will Bunch at Attytood has done a good job looking at this issue, as these recent posts here and here show. The 60 Minutes piece alone should bring action, and should solidify our place as a national disgrace and laughing-stock. I mean, for all the conservatives and NRA supporters who rail about terrorists and liberal appeasement, I am curious to hear their thoughts on the possibility that Islamic extremists might be purchasing large stocks of guns.

Karl at Philly Future has a nice overview of this issue, with more links, all under the ominous title, "Philly less safe than Iraq?" How sad is it that one could utter that phrase?

Finally, go here and see the current homocide tally for the city. It alone should spur everyone to work together to change things for the better, so that there are no .

No comments: