The Philadelphia police are facing multiple lawsuits at the moment over their slow-walking of concealed carry applications, which has left many residents who want to carry a gun for their personal safety in a legal limbo. There’s currently a wait of a year or more to simply drop off applications for processing, and both the Gun Owners of America and the Firearms Policy Coalition have both sued the city over the unconscionable (and unconstitutional) delays.
In the meantime, violent crime in the City of Brotherly Love continues to spiral out of control, with homicides nearing an all-time high. It’s no wonder that many residents are seeking security and peace of mind by carrying a firearm for self-defense, and stories like this one will only increase the demand along legal gun owners.
A man who stopped for late-night takeout in a Northeast Philadelphia eatery found himself in the middle of a robbery. Police said he fired the fatal shot that stopped the crime.
It happened at around 10:30 Sunday night at the Wingstop in the 2100 block Cottman Avenue.
Police said the suspect, a 53-year-old man, came in wearing a mask and gloves.
“(He) walked in, went behind the counter, announced a robbery and asked for all the money,” said Philadelphia Police Department Chief Inspector Scott Small.
Before the three employees who were inside could comply with his demands, a customer walked in talking on his cell phone.
“That’s when the robber pointed a gun at that customer and demanded his cell phone,” said Small, who added that the 27-year-old customer quickly decided to fight back.
The 27-year old drew his lawfully-carried gun and fired a single shot, striking the would-be robber in the neck and sending him crumpling to the restaurant floor.
Small says that the armed citizen stayed at scene and was cooperative with officers once they arrived, adding that the man isn’t expected to face any charges in the incident. The 53-year old suspect was pronounced dead on the scene, and while authorities haven’t released his identity, they have noted that the suspect had “previous run-ins with the law.”
While Second Amendment activists are fighting to ensure that the Philly PD processes carry applications in a timely manner so that residents can obtain their own license to carry in order to protect themselves in similar situations, other activists are hard at work trying to abolish the city’s police force altogether. Philadelphia Magazine recently reported on the efforts of Black Lives Matter activists YahNé Ndgo and Krystal Strong, who are working with the Black Philly Radical Collective to abolish the city’s police force within the next five years.
It’s not possible, in Ndgo’s and Strong’s view, for an institution that was racist in its founding and practice to be remade; modern policing has antecedents in fugitive slave patrols. “When we talk about the formation of police, we’re talking about a colonial apparatus, with the specific mission of capturing Black people,” Strong says. The state’s need to control Black communities set an agenda that never fundamentally changed, which is why, Strong says, “There is no reform that will make a cop not kill Black people.” On a more recent legacy from the Clinton era, she says, “Mass incarceration relies on police to protect property, to protect capital, to capture Black people. Mass incarceration in the prison industrial complex requires police to be foot soldiers, to fill prisons. … The only way to break out of the cycle is to enact a world that doesn’t require police.”
Changing the nature of policing, and even the idea of abolition, has been building among Philly organizers for a long time. But what’s most fundamentally needed, they argue, is community-building, given that the deep problems of many neighborhoods in Philadelphia — poverty, poor education, a lack of jobs, deficient health care — are what lead to crime in the first place. Organizers are advocating for on-the-ground solutions from within, a self-determination Black communities have never been in position to generate. Even when it comes to violent crime, Ndgo says, the goal is to train community members to deal with the most dangerous situations.
I wonder where Ndgo and Strong stand on permitless carry. Both of them have expressed a desire to replace policing with community interventions, but are awfully quiet when it comes to the issue of armed self-defense in high crime neighborhoods. Rather than focus on the nitty gritty details of what a police-free Philadelphia would look like, particularly in the most violent parts of the city, the pair seem much more interested in reimagining Philadelphia as a socialist paradise.
“Everybody thinks things are impossible until they’re done,” Ndgo says. “The thing is just to decide! If ruling forces said, ‘In five years, you all, there isn’t going to be police, so figure out your shit,’ everybody would pull their shit together, because they know they have to.”
“It’s not that things can’t be done,” Strong says, “it’s that they won’t be done. There’s not the political will. Cuba after the revolution, in a matter of months, transformed its literacy rate, empowered everyday people to teach and learn with each other. Europe after World War II was completely decimated — the Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe, while also leaving the colonies [that the U.S. and Europe] were extracting from in a state of disarray. So we’ve seen when these power systems want things to happen, they can happen. Look at Notre Dame, when it was on fire. Look at Jeff Bezos, making millions during the pandemic. The idea that things are impossible is actually propaganda — the issue is political will for change.”
Here’s the brutal, blunt truth: there is no widespread political will for abolishing the police. Not in Philadelphia, not in Minneapolis, and not even in Seattle, where the far-Left city council has stripped the department of $30-million in funding. Police reform, yes. Police abolition? No.
The Philadelphia Police Department isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be held accountable for its failures, including the failure to ensure that legal gun owners can carry a firearm for their own protection. The lawsuits filed by GOA and FPC stand a much better chance of success than the efforts to dismantle the city’s police force, and would go much further in making the city a safer place for all who live there.