With the growing number of casualties and incidents, Philadelphia sues Pennsylvania in the hopes of the latter enacting stronger gun control laws.
Philadelphia Sues Pennsylvania: Will This Change Anything?
As Philadelphia faces its most deadly year in over a decade, the city, 10 residents, and several gun control advocacy groups are suing the state of Pennsylvania for the ability to implement their own gun control laws that would impose stronger restrictions than what state law enforces.
Pennsylvania’s Firearm Preemption Laws prohibit municipal governments from enacting stricter gun control measures than those at the state level.
The ten residents involved in the suit have all been directly impacted by gun violence. They believe that the state is increasing gun violence in their communities.
“By enacting and continuing to ratify the Firearm Preemption Laws, the General Assembly has increased gun violence in these municipalities, and they have affirmatively endangered the lives, health, and safety of the Individual Petitioners,” the lawsuit says.
“In creating and perpetuating this danger of their own making, Respondents have violated the inherent and indefeasible right to enjoy and defend life and liberty under Article 1, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.”
Philadelphia has reported at least 366 murders this year, with nearly three months to go.
Homicide is now one of the leading causes of death for Black men in Philly, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Wednesday.
The city counts more deaths from gun violence than it does from diabetes.
“If [Harrisburg lawmakers] are going to abdicate their responsibility and their duty to save the lives of constituents through common-sense policy, then they need to let other elected officials step up at the local level to do that duty,” Adam Garber, executive director of CeaseFire PA, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told Billy Penn and WHYY News.
Requested Actions Don’t Guarantee Results
There is no conclusive evidence that the laws that the city would like to implement will result in less gun violence.
Making parks and rec centers into gun-free zones has had varying degrees of success in other cities.
A study on the effectiveness of different gun-control measures done by the Rand Corporation found no evidence that so-called “gun-free zones” increased or decreased the number of gun violence incidents.
Instead, they prohibit trained and law-abiding citizens from arming themselves in defense.
Banning assault weapons has also not been proven to decrease violent crime. The city has also attempted to outlaw “straw purchasers,” who buy guns for those who cannot legally do so themselves. This behavior is already illegal.
The lawsuit claims that the Pennsylvania Legislature has repeatedly prevented municipalities from enacting “sensible policies” aimed at curbing gun violence.
It argues that this violates not just residents’ constitutional right to “enjoy and defend life and liberty,” but it also affects the state’s obligation “to maintain order and preserve the safety and welfare of all citizens.”
The suit also says the General Assembly has refused to pass or even discuss “evidence-based” gun safety legislation at the state level. This exposes residents to “direct risk” of gun violence.
Residents in low-income Black and Hispanic communities are considered to be the most exposed to gun violence.
This is not the first time that Philadelphia has sued Pennsylvania for failure to act on gun control legislation.
The city also sued the state in 2007, when 391 homicides were recorded.
What is your take on Philadelphia suing Pennsylvania? Do you think this will change anything? Let us know what you think in the comments section!