Violent crimes in Philadelphia are on the rise. 96 homicide victims in 66 days of 2022 (as of February 7) according to the Philly Police Department (a 1,45 murder per day) are painful silent witnesses of that reality.
Although there is not an exact number of the percentage of murders committed with guns, violence involving weapons is an undeniable fact.
But it’s not just a matter of fatal violent incidents.
For those reasons, the City of Philadelphia promoted the Group Violence Intervention program, an initiative that aims to reduce violence which involves weapons and members of neighborhood groups. According to the National Network for Safe Communities, members of these groups make up 0.5% of the population, but participate in 60% of its homicides and episodes of armed violence.
In January, Governor Tom Wolf announced $15 million to keep supporting gun violence prevention efforts through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s prevention program.
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“Ghost guns are untraceable, do-it-yourself firearms that can be assembled from home (which) are quickly becoming the weapon of choice for criminals”, said repeatedly as a mantra on his Twitter account.But, is this enough? Not for Pennsylvania Attorney General (AG), Josh Shapiro. He has been alerting for some time about the dangers involving a specific type of weapon: the ghost guns.
Ghost guns are untraceable firearms that can be assembled at home — and they've become the weapon of choice for criminals.
Violent criminals should not be able to make their own firearms at home — when they aren't legally allowed to buy one. It's that simple.
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) January 2, 2022
A growing concern
Shapiro is concerned about the growing threat of ghost guns because they are untraceable and sold online without checking the criminal background of the buyers.
Right now, violent criminals — who aren’t legally able to buy a firearm — can instead buy a kit and make a firearm themselves at home. No background check required.
This is a clear threat to public safety. Ghost guns are fueling violence and lawmakers must close this loophole.
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) February 22, 2022
It’s not clear how many crimes are committed with ghost guns in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania. Figures show these weapons are becoming a higher issue year after year.
Philly Police recovered 287 ghost guns in the first half of 2021. 9 % of all guns recovered following a gun crime were ghost guns.
PPD recovered 571 ghost guns in 2021, a 128,4 % increase from 2020. That year, 250 guns were taken off the streets, a 163,59 % rise from the previous year.
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Previously, the Pennsylvania AG led a multi-state coalition in submitting a 17-page commenton August 19, 2021 to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that encourages them to end regulations stating that ghost guns are firearms under federal law. “It’s past time the Legislature in Harrisburg takes action to protect our communities. They must close the ghost gun loophole. Now.”, said Shapiro in a tweet on January 15, 2022.
Shapiro has previously called on U.S. AG Merrick Garland and federal lawmakers to close loopholes that allow prohibited purchasers to buy weapon parts kits and “80 % percent receivers” that can easily be assembled into functioning guns.
The proposed rule intends to update the ATF’s interpretations of “firearm” and “frame or receiver” as used in the Gun Control Act of 1968 to clarify that weapon kits and incomplete weapon parts (both of which can be easily converted into functioning guns) are covered by the Act.
The comment explained that, to maintain the integrity of the Gun Control Act, the ATF must revise its regulations to include modern gun designs.
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