A few weeks ago, Broad + Liberty reached out to more than twenty elected officials in Philadelphia to respond to one of the most consequential issues in our city: a spike in homicides and violent crime that continues to rise to historic rates in 2022. More specifically, we asked our state representatives, City Council members, and mayor whether they agreed with the Philadelphia district attorney’s January statement that “We do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings.”
With shootings on the rise, do our elected officials — who represent all of us — agree with Krasner’s consistent failure to prosecute people booked with illegal guns?
As usual in Philadelphia, most were silent.
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Among those not responding were Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, whose North Philadelphia-based Council district has seen over a dozen killings this year, most of them unsolved. Councilwoman Helen Gym, who had time to lead a protest against the U.S. Supreme Court last week, ignored the most pressing issue in her backyard. Northeast Philly Representative Kevin Boyle, whose district voted overwhelmingly against Larry Krasner in his 2021 match-up against long-shot Republican Chuck Peruto, still won’t say a thing about Krasner or his policies.
But the office of Philly Mayor Jim Kenney sent back a prompt response, saying that he “believes that individuals carrying guns illegally should be held accountable for that choice,” and that the city “will continue to do everything [it] can to address the major causes of violence, while attempting to remove the tools that generate that violence: guns.”
Is his response sufficient to a district attorney that has stated a stated non-prosecution stance for illegal gun possession? Probably not.
It is our opinion at Broad + Liberty that D.A. Krasner should be called out by name and publicly pressured to actually prosecute illegal gun use and possession. But read into Kenney’s statement what you will — he believes, as most of his constituents do, that the choice to carry and use an illegal gun should come with some sort of punishment.
Mayor Kenney’s office responded, as they did when we asked him about his decision to dine out in Old City on the eve of Covid lockdowns, whether city employees were getting Covid bonuses to work from home, and about his decision to place a box over a statue of Christopher Columbus in South Philadelphia’s Marconi Plaza.
The Mayor is late into his second term, and has a habit of ducking tough issues and handing the policy reins to the progressives in his office and on Council — they are, after all, the ones with the bullhorn and the money behind them. But his office is still responding to a growing press outlet, and one that seeks to represent Philadelphians who are fearful about our city’s left turn into lawlessness.
For that, I give two cheers to Mayor Jim Kenney and his staff. It’s a start, and it should not go unnoticed.
Albert Eisenberg is a millennial political consultant based in Philadelphia and Charleston, SC. He runs the messaging agency BlueStateRed and has been featured on RealClearPolitics, Fox News, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere. He is a co-founder of Broad + Liberty. @Albydelphia.