(Photo via Getty Images/Colorado Newsline.)
By Michael Cogbill
Black communities nationwide were ravaged by violence this Independence Day weekend. And Pennsylvania, which ranks 7th in Black homicides per-100,000 residents, was no exception.
Issue advocates, elected officials and even labor unions have worked to address the problem but Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are seeing a record breaking number of shootings and homicides.
Both municipal governments and state legislatures are fighting for more resources to help with the problem, President Joe Biden is advocating for $900 million in funding to address urban gun violence and under the Obama administration the ban on federal funding for research was lifted.
Advocates have asked for the media to do a better job on gun violence reporting and they have done so, trauma surgeons and nurses are relentlessly advocating on behalf of the issue and community groups are frequently rallying for an end to gun violence in Impacted communities.
Despite the valiant efforts of so many across the state, we are still left with the question of how and why gun violence is so out of control.
The problem is there are just too many guns, hand guns, shot guns, assault rifles, machine guns, and now, ghost guns.
The FBI estimates that nearly 40 million guns were purchased in 2020, by the number of NCIS background checks initiated.
Pennsylvania ranks in the top ten states with guns purchased at 1.4 million averaging more than 100,000 guns sold per month.
Ghost guns can be made at home and are completely untraceable. Both state Rep Amen Brown, D-Philadelphia, and recording artist Kur drew attention to matter with the latter mentioning switches, which are illegal devices that turn handguns into mini-machine guns.
This year alone from January 2021 to June 2021 there were more than 760,000 firearms potentially purchased in Pennsylvania putting us in the top 7 with Texas, Kentucky, Florida, California and Indiana.
Dwarfing the group with more than 6 million background checks initiated this year is Illinois and in 2019 “Switches” were popping up in Chicago.
Nationwide, there have been more than 22 million background checks initiated through the NCIS system this year, signaling that gun sales are actually increasing despite claims of an inventory shortage.
The kicker is, there are still hundreds of thousands of background checks left incomplete due in part to a strange loophole in which the check is null and void if results aren’t returned in three days.
Pennsylvania does have PICS which is a second layer of protection from bad gun buyers but it’s no help to our two most populous cities.
It is far past time that GVP groups, legislators and anti gun lobbyists stop playing nice with gun owners and manufacturers.
A potential answer is to go big, and push for a blockade on the production and import of firearms for at least the next 20 years. This action is feasible but it will take courage, creative thinking and relentless advocacy over a short window of time.
Michael Cogbill is an organizer for the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO and the Political Action Chair for the Pennsylvania NAACP. He writes from Philadelphia.
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