Officials, activists join forces to curb gun violence in Philadelphia

By: - February 27, 2021 6:30 am

By The Philadelphia Tribune 

Spurred by a spike in gun violence in Philadelphia, officials and activists are joined forces Friday to call for legislative and executive action.

Mayor Jim Kenney, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, District Attorney Larry Krasner and state Sen. Sharif Street joined with other officials and anti-violence advocates at 12 p.m. on Friday at the site of last week’s shooting at Broad Street and Olney Avenue and call for legislative and executive action to stop gun violence in Pennsylvania.

Gun buybacks are among actions that the city has regularly used to stem the violence.

Outlaw said Thursday during a virtual news conference with members of City Council that the buybacks put a dent in crime.

The programs “provide an opportunity for those in the neighborhood to meet with their local officers in a pressure-free environment,” she said.

City officials and community groups will hold another gun buyback event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Mount Carmel Baptist Church at 5732 Race St. and at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ at 6401 Ogontz Ave.

The first 150 people who turn in a working handgun or semi-automatic firearm will receive a $100 gift certificate to Brown’s ShopRite stores in Philadelphia. Law enforcement officials will not ask for identification from or question individuals who turn in firearms.

Philadelphia City Council, the Father’s Day Rally Committee, Brown’s ShopRite Markets, the Philadelphia Police Department and community anti-violence leaders are putting on the event.

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The gun buyback event comes at a time of rising homicides in Philadelphia. The city has logged 75 homicides this year as of Thursday, up 36 percent compared with the same time last year, according to the police department’s online database.

Philadelphia is among cities across the country that are grappling with increases in gun violence, often enabled by cheap, unrestricted availability of firearms.

In 2020, Philadelphia saw its year-over-year homicide rate spike higher than anytime since at least 1960; homicides hit 499, a level not seen since 1990 when there were 500 homicides.

Councilmember Curtis Jones said the gun buyback program was “another arrow in our quiver of things that we’re already doing” to prevent gun violence.

A gun buyback last month netted 224 firearms.

Officers recovered nearly 5,000 crime guns last year. Police have recovered 837 crime guns so far this year, putting the department on track to recover nearly 6,000 by year’s end.

“Giving a gun gets food on the table,” said Councilmember Cindy Bass. “It’s a win-win.”

This story first appeared in the Philadelphia Tribune, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. 

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