Philly Tragedy Highlights Problems With Gun Laws

There’s few places in this country that don’t get touched by violence on some level. Even the smallest community will, at some point, have a violent tragedy take place within their borders. It’s awful, and I get why some people are so motivated to do something about violence.

However, focusing on the guns in a way that will only really impact the law-abiding gun owners will never actually work. A senseless tragedy in Philadelphia is a perfect example.

“It is so very hard to believe,” [Theresa Stuhlman] said at the sentencing hearing, “that the three individuals that are responsible for Jim’s death were 14 and 15 years old at the time, which is the same age as my daughter is now.”

James Stuhlman, 51, a businessman, husband, and father, had been out walking his dog in Overbrook Park on the night of March 12, 2015, when the three teens accosted him, roughed him up, and took his money.

Once, this would have been a mugging, an unfortunate reality of urban living. Instead, it was a murder.

The difference was a gun — wielded by a 15-year-old who got it from a 14-year-old.

What laws, pray tell, would stop a 14-year-old from getting their hands on a firearm?

It’s already illegal for a 14-year-old to buy a gun, sell a gun, or much of anything else with a gun except shooting one with adult supervision, so what laws will stop him?


Worse, supposed gun violence prevention activists know it.

“I think it’s a big problem,” said Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, the statewide gun-violence prevention group based in Philadelphia. “They all know where to get guns and how to get them and the houses where guns are kept. Where the guns came from originally is hard to know.”

Goodman said it’s impossible to estimate how many illegal guns are floating in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania communities.

The chances are these are stolen firearms, guns taken from law-abiding gun owners. Even if they’ve been secured with gun locks, those can be defeated easily enough. They’re not something that will stop a criminal from taking the gun, then selling a functional firearm to someone who probably shouldn’t have it.

Mrs. Stuhlman’s loss is a tragedy. I imagine most of us try not to even think too much about losing our spouses (assuming we have one), much less losing them to something like this. My own son is 16, and I can’t fathom someone his age doing something like this. It is very much a horrible thing.

It’s also proof that absent a complete and total ban and an effective confiscation program–two things that cannot and will not happen–there’s almost nothing you can do with laws that will stop violence from happening.

Instead, why is it so hard to get the anti-gun violence activists to recognize that the noun here isn’t “gun,” it’s “violence.” The word “gun” is the adjective, for crying out loud.

If you want to combat violence, any kind of violence, stop bellyaching about the tool they use. Does it matter if someone is murdered by a knife, a baseball bat, or a gun? They’re just as dead and it’s still violence.

These folks should focus instead on the causes of violence.

Unless, of course, they don’t really care about violence.

Apr 13, 2021 5:30 PM ET