As with some other large cities — Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans, St. Louis — Philadelphia is experiencing what could be called an epidemic of gun crime.
While Philly crime has been halved over the past couple of decades, homicides here are climbing.
Attaboy, Mayor Jim Kenney, D.A. Larry Krasner and former Police Commissioner Rich Ross.
If guns are a crisis as we keep hearing, to be serious about reducing gun crime you have to whack it seriously and across the board. Half-hearted measures will get half-assed results.
Once upon a time in America, bad actions had consequences, but not so much any more. I don’t want to point fingers (but I will) and I trace a cultural shift back to Dr. Benjamin Spock, the book-writing pediatrician who became the spiritual guru to Baby Boomer parents. Punishment was out, positive reinforcement was in. Soft guilt replaced hard expectations.
There is nothing wrong with reward, another word for positive reinforcement. That’s how I trained my dogs, but I realized my kids needed a pinch of punishment along with the strong rewards. They were capable of comprehending concepts such as good and evil that were beyond the ken of the lower animals.
Yes, there were occasional spankings, a technique I learned from my parents.
The concept of consequences seemed to blow up in the counter-culture revolution of the ‘60s, where pretty much everything was turned on its head.
Do the right thing became do your own thing.
As America entered the ‘70s, the crime rate sky rocketed, smashing the glass ceiling in the early ‘90s, resulting in a harsh 1994 crime bill.
Incarceration went up and crime went down over the next two decades. Some revisionists say crime was declining anyway, which may be true, but the crime bill accelerated the decline.
The jails filled up, the result of what some called “mass incarceration,” which was not that massive and almost everyone locked up should have been, I previously reported.
That brings us to today, with Philadelphia’s weekly street slay fest, almost always in bad neighborhoods.
Almost all the victims are nonwhite. Allowing this to continue could be construed as racist.
As a parent, and as an adult, I can tell you that you get less of a behavior when you punish it and more of a behavior when you accept or praise it.
So how do we cut gun deaths, almost all of which come at the hands of bad guys with illegal guns?
Here is my recipe:
First, end plea bargaining and downgrading gun crimes. No more reducing a “gun” crime to one listed as an “instrument of crime.” The equation must be: GUNS = JAIL. No if, ands or bullets.
Under Pennsylvania law, carrying a gun without a permit can get you up to five years in prison, says gun law expert Jon Mirowitz. Start hammering offenders with that and watch the word go out that Philly is serious as a heart attack on illegal carry.
Remind yourself that Meek Mill, in his previous drug-dealing line of work, was collared with an illegal gun, but the gun charge vanished. Hip-Hop Privilege? That sends exactly the wrong message.
Use a gun in the commission of a crime and get an extra 10 years.tacked on to your sentence. Serious penalties are required.
All the above seek to punish. What follows seeks to prevent.
Employ stop and frisk in neighborhoods with a high number of shootings.
Stop and frisk is controversial. Why?
The neighborhoods with the greatest gun violence are the poorest and also the least white. Stops made in those neighborhoods primarily will be black people. As are most of the victims. So, yeah, you would see more stops in Nicetown than Chestnut Hill. Stop and frisk would rolled out in the dark areas of the map.
Does stop and frisk work?
A report by the Pennsylvania ACLU examining 41,661 stops made in the first and second quarters of 2018 found that 84% of people were stopped with reasonable suspicion, which is the standard.
Some 20 illegal guns were seized in that half year. which is a small number, but 20 guns taken off the street represents 20 lives potentially saved. That would by 40 for the year, and that is more than 10% of the projected annual death toll total.
I think one reason for the small weapons haul is fhe illegal owners leave their guns home, fearing to be snared. I can’t prove that — it just makes sense. . .
Is it justified? I think so.
Straw buyers are qualified gun purchasers who buy guns for those — like boy friends — who can’t pass a background check. Under Pennsylvania law, that can bring 5-10 years in state prison — but only if the judge imposes it.
Judges can’t go wobbly. They need to impose the sentence, even on the baby mamas of the guys they bought the gat for.
If you aren’t willing to — pardon the pun — bite the bullet, you forfeit your right to whine about blood running in the street.