Opinion

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court could soon rule on a trio of lawsuits that could give cities like Philly the right to bind their own weapons. Now is the time for Philly’s leaders to bring all their lobbying energy into battle.


A ticket and flowers honoring the victims of a mass attack in South Philadelphia are pasted at a traffic light on 3rd and South Street corner on June 5, 2022. Three people were killed and 12 others were injured on June 4, 2022, after several gunmen opened fire on a crowd on a busy street, police said. Now it’s time for Philly leaders to go all-in for gun control / Photo by Kriston Jae Bethel, AFP via Getty Images

A typical Philadelphia weekend has now become one that unfortunately ends with a recap of the fatal shootings. Last weekend was no exception, after the national titles reported a mass shooting on South Street who killed three people and injured 12. None of this is shocking; it has become a trend in a nation whose elected officials will not take gun control seriously.

Normally, at a time like this, I would become justifiably cynical, expecting the same tired press conferences, announcements from a special working group, or a new initiative and throwing money like a band at a wound. hemorrhagic.

More police is not the answer.

The wrong pointing finger at the prosecutor’s office is not the answer.

More money for community groups already burdened with the root causes of this violence – poverty, public education / poor health care, unemployment – is also not.

None of this will help without a change in the laws and policies that determine how many weapons are in the city and who owns them. If you listen carefully, Philly politicians they blamed Harrisburg legislators for years. On multiple OCCASIONS, the city tried to enforce its own rules on possession and purchase of weapons and was repeatedly rejected in court. A Republican-controlled State House has been the biggest obstacle to comprehensive gun control in Pennsylvania. For decades, local municipalities in the Commonwealth have been banned from adopting their own gun laws. Until that changes, we will remain in the same difficult situation: a city with a huge problem with gun violence and no self-determination about the laws that govern weapons.

But maybe there’s a glimmer of hope. While we wait to see if the US Congress will do it acts in the end, is something to look out for in our own backyard. Right now, three major processes – two involving Philadelphia and one involving Pittsburgh – could be brought before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and could change the status quo.

The two cities are trying to break a long-standing precedent that has given the state legislature sole authority to regulate gun ownership in Pennsylvania. If they win this battle in what is now a Democratic-majority Pennsylvania Supreme Court, our city could finally have more say in the gun laws in our neighborhoods.

This is a big deal – a real chance to deal with gun violence in our city.

Philadelphia is to be commended for pursuing these cases. (Of the two cases in which Philly is involved, one directly assumes the state’s preemption; the other tries to request the reporting of lost or stolen weapons.) But I think more should be done to make Philadelphians aware of this important effort. Those in the Local Council and the City Hall read this: I need you to stand up and lobby like hell. Make as much noise about it as you all did for the soda tax. Remember the soda tax? When our chosen ones gathered hard for something that, just a few years earlier, felt impossible?

For those who forgot, the campaign to promote the soda tax was massive. A coalition of community leaders, elected officials, chiefs of staff, academics, and others persuaded people to join, resist intense pressure from the beverage industry, and fund something for the good: promoting pre-K and rebuilding parks. . If the tax was regressive, it was not what anyone cared about at the time. This was Kenney’s grand plan to improve early education. His heart was set on justice. He found ways to do that.

The controversial victory of the juice tax remains Kenney’s biggest achievement in office. He did what his predecessor could not do and restored our expectations of what local politicians can achieve with little influence and aggressive use of the bully’s pulpit. For example, look at how Kenney has also been influential in supporting education advocates in their mission to overthrow the SRC – an act that did not require a single vote from the City Council.

With Kenney ending his second term, why not start the engine of influence while the city challenges the state’s precedent on gun laws? He even said in this magazine that the only thing that could really make a difference is gun control. Lobbying for legislation is different from hoping that a lawsuit will go your way, but a healthy dose of public awareness – that this That’s what drives the city’s efforts to tackle the most existential problem head-on – it couldn’t hurt, could it?

It’s time to dump her and move on. Make sure the whole state realizes that we know what’s at stake in these cases and that we’re asking for change in Harrisburg. We need a progressive coordinated effort – including the free press, activists, legislators and the community at large – to focus on our state’s Supreme Court (just as the nation is currently focusing on SCOTUS in terms of Roe v. Wade). If there was ever a time, now it is. There was too much bloodshed for our officers to sit still and wait – so as not to risk a large piece. And unlike at the federal level, where SCOTUS judges serve for life, a flash of public opinion can be effective in Pennsylvania, where high court judges are re-elected every 10 years.

Recent studies have found that in states like California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Connecticut, where stricter gun laws have been enacted – mandatory background checks and permits, transportation permits, requirements for safe storage of firearms, removal of your supports the ground – there is less gun violence. than in states without such laws.

At this point, it feels like something different is possible. Even one of the Republican judges who ruled against one of these cases, Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, suggested that perhaps it was time to reconsider the precedent, citing a colleague who said, in a different case, “It’s not just to impose unnecessary pain. boundaries in communities where they are not needed nor in accordance with the mere humanity of denying the basic safety regulations to the citizens who desperately need them ” [emphasis added].

This is a chance for our own elected officials to do more than give statements of thought and prayers – to take real action to make a difference.

Kenney and others have long been expected to bring the same energy to the gun control lobby.

By philcp

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