Guns. They seem to be everywhere and everyone seems to have them. This has been one of the main concerns of Mayor Michael Nutter and District Attorney Seth Williams, both raised in West Philadelphia where gun violence has taken its toll on the communities.
Nutters’ controversial Stop and Frisk policy, which allows officers more liberty to stop citizens suspected of carrying illegal firearms, is one method used by the mayor to rid the streets of the guns used in crimes.
While there are those who contend that the measure stigmatizes Black and Latino men amounting to racial profiling, others feel that anything that could help prevent gun violence should be utilized.
It might be a no-brainer for some that guns need to be taken off our streets and more legislation ratified which would control their use in the city limits, however others disagree.
In fact, one piece of legislation, H.R. 822 The National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, would take away a state’s right to determine who could or could not carry a concealed weapon within their state.
On Sep. 13 Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey asked Congress to vote against the measure.
“We have a uniquely diverse nation. What works where I currently serve as commissioner of Philadelphia … does not work for our neighbor across the river in New Jersey,” said Ramsey during the hearing. “This bill would allow people to carry concealed and loaded guns in every state without consideration for the minimum standards created by their governments.”
With 279 shooting deaths in the city this year, not including 2,777 robberies with guns and another 2,039 aggravated assaults with guns Philadelphia is pressured to resolve the gun crisis.
Philadelphia now has another ally in its fight to maintain its right to control gun permits within its borders in Sen. Larry Farnese (D-1st District) who has championed the cause of closing the “Florida Loophole,” or the law which allows those denied permits in Philadelphia to go to Florida and, acquire a gun permit, and carry those guns in Philadelphia where they were initially denied.
“I think that public safety is paramount to Philadelphia success and the ability of Commonwealth to move forward,” said Farnese during an exclusive interview.
According to Farnese, the issue of guns and gun violence extends beyond political boundaries and affect businesses and communities in the region as well.
Businesses go where they feel safe, where their property and clients can be protected. For this reason, gun violence not only cost lives but, according to Farnese, affects the goods and services, along with the employment prospects, in the areas affected.
“We want folks to come to Philadelphia and Pennsylvania and go to our schools and get their degrees but then they leave,” said Farnese about the economic and social impact of crime on the population, “we want them to know that if they want to start their families here they are going to be safe. They are going to be able to have their families and their grandchildren come visit. Those are the kinds of economic viability issues that are going to help Philadelphia and Pennsylvania,” explained Farnese.
Farnese introduced S.B. 622 which now sits in the Judiciary Committee and would, in effect, close the loophole if ratified.
“You cannot ignore that the gun lobby is very large and extremely powerful,” said Farnese, “this is about fixing a loophole, a mistake in the law that is being exploited by bad folks to the detriment of not just innocent men, women and children which should not have them [guns] but it is also an assault on police officers each and every day that are out there on the front lines and they and their family are giving their lives.”
Farnese believes that police officers not only need the necessary tools to ensure that they can do their jobs such as proper equipment, but also need the legislative tools necessary to not only do their jobs but also to help ensure that they can do so more safely.
“When I am at a funeral of a fallen officer and I see their families there, elected officials can certainly provide the cars, the bullet proof vests and the radios but we also need to give them the legislative equipment that they need to make themselves safer,” said Farnese, “I have a real problem with that, if you want to mourn over a fallen police officer who have made the ultimate sacrifice than you should fight the political pressure, say that this loophole is ridiculous, its clearly an exploitation of a hole in the wall and we as legislators should do everything to fix it.”