One of the big objections to Democrats’ recent push for mandatory storage laws and criminal penalties for parents who allow their minor children access to firearms is that a one-size-fits-all law not only makes it more difficult for adult gun owners to use their firearms in self-defense, but that it prevents minors from doing the same. And yes, kids under the age of 18 have indeed used guns to protect both themselves and family members from home invaders and armed robbers, though the incidents rarely make national news headlines.
We’ll see if the likes of CNN and the New York Times give any notice to the attempted robbery of a pizza place in Philadelphia last week, where the 14-year-old son of the restaurant’s owners opened fire on the suspect.
Police say three men had just robbed a CVS pharmacy at North Broad and Spring Garden streets when one of the suspects made his way into the pizza shop a block away.
The surveillance video shows the thief reaching over the counter as the clerk opened the cash register.
A struggle ensues between the suspect and the clerk.
The video shows the teenager, who is the son of the pizza shop owner, pull out a gun and open fire, striking the suspect in the face. The suspect then flees the scene.
“There was money on the floor and there was also some broken glass inside the store, and there was also a large amount of blood,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said last week.
As it turns out, it wasn’t just “a clerk” who was being attacked by the suspect. It was the 14-year old’s mom.
Sources told NBC10 the boy grabbed a gun from underneath the counter and struggled with his holster before opening fire. On the video, it’s unclear whether or not the teen grabbed the weapon from under the counter or if he pulled it from his waistband.
All three men, including the suspect who was shot, fled the scene.
Responding officers followed a trail of blood for about three blocks to a subway station on Broad and Spring Garden streets where they found the suspect bleeding heavily. Police also found a large amount of cash inside the suspect’s pocket, though they did not find a gun. Investigators are unsure if the suspect was armed during the robbery or if he pretended to have a weapon.
The suspect was taken to Jefferson Hospital, where he is currently in critical condition.
NBC 10 spoke with J.P. O’Connor, whose family owns a nearby bar. He says that with violent crime on the rise, “if people have to take things into their own hands when people enter their business and, you know, want to cause harm to their employees and customers, I think it’s a good thing for sure.”
So far, I haven’t seen or heard anyone calling for the teen’s parents to face criminal charges for allowing him access to a firearm, though that could change. I’m sure that Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, for instance, would love to take some of the heat off of him that he’s currently facing from other city officials over his “sense of detachment” about the sharp rise in shootings and record number of homicides by pointing the finger at the parents who let their kid have access to a handgun inside the family business.
City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier have leveled new criticism of how Mayor Jim Kenney has dealt with gun violence, saying he has failed to urgently tackle a crisis marked by the highest homicide rate in generations.
The controller and Gauthier, whose district is among the hardest hit by gun violence, escalated their dispute with Kenney this week by publishing a half-dozen letters between their offices dating from July to September.
In the letters, Gauthier and Rhynhart ask the administration to provide details on its response to rising rates of gun violence, specifically with regard to initiatives outside traditional policing. They said they chose to release the months-old communications this week because the administration hasn’t rolled out some of its new antiviolence programs or expanded existing ones quickly enough.
In an interview Tuesday, the pair said the Kenney administration has provided only vague responses to their overtures and has failed to direct resources to the people most affected by gun violence.
“There seems to be a lack of strategy,” Rhynhart said. “We were calling for very specific, targeted investment into the neighborhoods that are most impacted, and for a sense of urgency around that. And what we found is, I would call it, a sense of detachment and responses that are much more general in nature.”
Philly is an absolute mess of a city when it comes to personal and public safety, in large part because of the policies and practices of its seemingly apathetic mayor, the soft-on-crime prosecutor who can’t even admit that residents are in the midst of a crime crisis, and the police chief who’s been criticized for everything from the department’s response to last summer’s riots to its low clearance rate for homicides (less than 50% of murders in the city lead to an arrest).
When people don’t feel like the government can ensure their safety, we shouldn’t be surprised that more folks reach the conclusion that their personal security is up to them. If I owned a business in Philadelphia, I’d definitely be armed on the job, and if my teenage kids were working behind the counter, I would absolutely want them to be able to protect themselves as well.