Philadelphia’s homicide rate is soaring right now, with 499 murders in 2020 marking the highest number of intentional fatalities in nearly 30 years. There’s a lot of blame to go around, from the soft-on-crime approach taken by Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner to Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw’s decision to lay off of enforcing some crimes during the coronavirus pandemic to the judges releasing criminals on low bail when they should be confined behind bars.
There’s such a lack of effective leadership in the city that residents are turning to some oddball ideas to try to reduce crime.
[Jamal] Johnson has had enough, that’s why the 63-year-old Germantown resident has decided to go on a hunger strike until Mayor Jim Kenney takes action on a City Council resolution passed last September that would declare gun violence a citywide emergency.
“We just want him to acknowledge and give us some indication of what he intends to do since it has been on his desk for four months,” Johnson said.
Similarly, Chestnut Hill mom Emily Clark is fed up with the constant headlines of people being gunned down in the city.
Through the Greenfield Foundation and a GoFundMe campaign, she has teamed up with longtime activist Bilal Qayyum to raise money to host two gun buybacks this Saturday.
We previously wrote about Emily Clark’s misguided idea and why it’s not going to do anything to reduce the violence in Philly, but honestly, I can’t blame folks for wanting to try something given the staggering rise in shootings, homicides, carjacking, and armed robberies.
Unfortunately for Emily and Jamal Johnson, the way to fix Philly isn’t going to come from skipping a few meals or offering people a gift card for their guns. It’s going to take a focus on the part of the part of the criminal justice system to ensure consequences for violent acts, as well as efforts to turn the most at-risk offenders away from their criminal behavior.
At the moment Philly’s failing to do both, but let’s focus on the criminal justice system for now. Why, for example, was 20-year old Davis Josephus, allowed to post just $3200 in bail money before he skipped out of jail while facing charges of carjacking and assaulting a corrections officer?
Josephus was originally held on $100,000 bond in the carjacking case and $20,000 bond for the assault on the corrections officer, but two different judges reduced his bond to just $20,000 and $12,000 in his respective cases. Josephus only had to put up 10% of the total bond before he was set free, and he walked out of jail just a couple of weeks ago.
Now he’s back behind bars and accused of murdering a 25-year old man who was out walking his dog. Davis and another unidentified suspect allegedly shot Milan Loncar in the chest, even after he cooperated with his assailants as they robbed him at gunpoint in the city’s Brewerytown neighborhood.
Larry Krasner, the district attorney who’s been roundly criticized for not prosecuting many felony cases, was quick to blame the judges in this case, though his office couldn’t say whether or not it had appealed either decision. Perhaps his office was blameless in this particular case, but Krasner’s approach to criminal justice has coincided with a multi-year rise in violent crime in the city.
Again, there’s more than enough blame to go around in Philadelphia right now, but sadly, most public officials are either pointing fingers at each other, or worse, pointing the finger at legal gun owners and proclaiming that more restrictions on the Second Amendment will somehow stop the city’s violent criminals from waging war on each other and innocent victims.
Don’t forget, earlier this year the Philly police simply stopped accepting applications for concealed carry licenses, and it took a lawsuit to get them to resume processing the year-long backlog. If you want to buy a gun and carry it for self-defense in Philadelphia today, you could easily see your right to bear arms delayed until late into the year or even into 2022 before you receive your permission slip from the city allowing you to do so.
Philly officials need to get serious about violent crime and the individuals who are disproportionally responsible for it, but they also need to get serious about respecting the right to keep and bear arms in self-defense. It’s unconscionable (and unconstitutional, as far as I’m concerned) for the city to deprive people of their Second Amendment rights, particularly at a time when homicides are at historic highs.