Last year, I wrote a good bit about the antics of Pittsburg Mayor Bill Peduto and his efforts to violate state law by passing a local-level assault weapon ban. It was immediately challenged in court and isn’t really expected to prevail. All that will happen is Peduto wasting taxpayer money in order to make sure his fellow Democrats know he has the right thoughts on guns.
However, Philadelphia now has a new city council who also needs to address gun violence. Philly isn’t exactly a safe city, all things considered, so it’s not overly surprising that this would be a new focus for the newly-elected officials.
The differences between them and Pittsburgh, however, are substantial. After all, they understand the rules and look to address the problem from the right direction.
Lawmakers also said reducing gun violence is a priority, after 2019 had the highest total of killings in the city since 2007. But there’s little legislating Council can do on gun control due to state laws that preempt local gun laws.
Parker said Council can act to stem gun violence by addressing poverty and encouraging job growth. “Give folks access to opportunity, and I guarantee you that we will begin to make some strides,” she said.
Clarke said Council looks forward to working with newly appointed Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.
Ms. Parker is dead on with her assessment.
As has been noted previously, violence within a city is generally confined to a small handful of people. These people tend to be focused in poorer sections of a city. Increased economic opportunity provides people an alternative to the criminal lifestyle that spurs so much of the violence. The impact of economic development on violence cannot really be overstated.
However, I also hope the city council in Philadelphia will look at additional efforts to target the specific groups that create so much of the violence. That’s a key part as well. Offering them job opportunities while also warning of dire repercussions if they continue with their criminal ways provides both a carrot and a stick approach that has been shown to actually work to reduce violence.
What’s important here, though, is that there’s no talk of gun control.
While Pennsylvania has a preemption law, Pittsburgh’s effort to challenge it in such a way might have opened the door for more communities to try similar stunts. Philly’s decision to not do so is important as they’re the other large city in the state. Had they ignored the law, others might have done so.
Instead, they’re going to play by the rules and address the real causes of violence.
Personally, I want to applaud them for doing so. Gun control is something of an “easy out.” No, it doesn’t do anything, but it’s the easy path to make it look like you’re doing something to address the problem. It doesn’t require the real work that combatting violence actually requires. Gun control is less effective than slapping a band-aid over a sucking chest wound.
Philly may not actually get that, but they do get there their authority ends, and I’ll take that.