Concealed carry applications, defensive gun uses soaring in Philly as fears of crime intensify

Don Petersen

Fox News is touting a 600% increase in the number of concealed carry licenses issued by the Philadelphia police between 2020 and 2021, though a big reason for that increase is the fact that the city actually shut down the department’s Gun Licensing Division for much of 2020, which prevented any and all applicants from receiving their permit. It took a lawsuit before city officials finally backed off of their bureaucratic carry ban, but in the months since many residents are clearly embracing their right to bear arms in self-defense.


That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the fact that the City of Brotherly Love is currently in the midst of a huge crime spike that’s saw the city set a new record for the number of homicides last year. And as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports today, as the number of armed citizens increases, so too are the number of defensive gun uses by law-abiding gun owners.

Justified homicides jumped 67% from 2020 to 2021 ― from 12 to 20 according to the Philadelphia Police Department. Another six have been ruled justified by the department but are awaiting the District Attorney’s office to sign off. In 2019, there were 10 justified killings, six in 2018 and eight in 2017, the department said.
So far in 2022, victims have shot at least eight armed assailants to death, with more than seven months remaining in the year.
“The total number of shootings and the climate of gun violence has gotten more severe,” said District Attorney Larry Krasner. “So I would expect that there would be more situations involving self-defense.”
As Krasner said, the surge in justified shootings reflects the general rise in gun violence in the city. With unjustified homicides hitting a record total last year, with 562 victims, self-defense killings climbed too, though only slightly as a percentage of all homicides.


Most people would be happy that a growing number of Philadelphians are taking steps to protect themselves and their families from violent criminals, even if we don’t ever want to be in a situation where we have to use deadly force to defend our own life. Gun control activists, on the other hand, see the growing number of justifiable homicides as a bad thing, and evidence that more restrictions on responsible gun owners are needed.

Jamal Johnson, an antiviolence activist who since 2017 has marched to Washington D.C. to lobby for stronger gun-control laws, said flatly he sees little good in the boom. “Whether they have permits or not, everyone is quick with the gun now,” he said, noting that two men with gun permits touched off the June 4 South Street mass shooting that left three dead and 11 injured.
“Guns are becoming too prevalent, whether they’re in the hands of licensed or unlicensed people,” Johnson said. “We’re becoming the Wild, Wild West, and soon everyone is going to have a gun, killing people ― justified or not.”
As it turns out, however, the incident that Johnson cited reveals more about the problems in the criminal justice system than it does about the right to carry.
In the chaotic shooting on South Street, Gregory E. Jackson, 34, opened fire on Micah Towns, 23, wounding him. Towns fired back, killing Jackson. While District Attorney Larry Krasner said Towns had fired in self-defense, Mayor Jim Kenney said Towns should have faced criminal charges.
As it happened, both Jackson and Towns had carry permits. However, as The Inquirer has reported, authorities in Delaware County gave Jackson his permit in error, losing track of a previous gun-possession arrest that likely should have led to a denial of a permit.

Even when folks are lawfully carrying and legally acting in self-defense, however, there can be repercussions. The Inquirer spoke to 22-year old Junwan Perkins-Owens, who shot a would-be robber while Perkins-Owens was on the job as an assistant manager at a Dollar General. While the armed citizen didn’t face any criminal charges, he says was terminated by the company for having a gun with him at work.


It was not the first time a would-be thief had threatened violence while Perkins-Owens was working at the store, which does not have a security guard, he said. In an earlier robbery attempt, a man threatened to stick him with a hypodermic needle while exiting the store without paying for merchandise.

Off the job, Perkins-Owens said he had been was shot in the leg and grazed in the hand during a hail of stray bullets outside a Germantown convenience store in 2019. He bought a gun after that. He said he didn’t hesitate to reach for his weapon when the man in the ski mask arrived at his store.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened, but victims are tired of being victims,” he said in an interview at his home in the Ogontz section. “People are actually standing up for themselves and are making robbers think twice about taking hard-earned money from everybody else.”

Well, Dollar General has just gone on my list of business I won’t patronize. Any company that fires an employee for defending their life doesn’t deserve my money, and it’s a shame that Perkins-Owens lost his job because he saved his own skin.

Carrying a firearm for self-defense doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to use it, and acting in self-defense doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. Still, if its a matter of losing your job or losing your life, most folks are going to find that an easy decision, and with the number of brazen and violent criminals growing in Philadelphia, I’m glad to see that tens of thousands of residents are starting to take their own safety and security seriously.


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