The Philadelphia City Council appears ready to ask voters to approve a new commission to seek answers to the city’s ongoing problem with gun violence.
All 17 members of the Council have signed on as co-sponsors to a new resolution, introduced last week, which would create a Commission on Youth Gun Violence. Philadelphia voters would be asked to amend the city charter to create the commission.
The proposal originated with Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. His office didn’t have immediate comment on the topic on Tuesday afternoon. But the resolution provides a case for giving the matter closer attention. According to the Council members, in Philadelphia:
• Nearly half of gun violence victims are under the age of 25.
• Aggravated assaults with guns last year increased 11 percent over 2014.
• More than 1,000 shooting victims were recorded in both 2014 and 2015.
The resolution has been referred to the Council’s Committee on Law and Government. If history is any indication, voters will likely OK it if it gets onto the ballot. The majority of proposed charter changes have been approved in recent years.
Here’s the full text of the proposed resolution:
Proposing an amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to provide for the creation, appointment, powers and duties of a Commission on Youth Gun Violence; and providing for the submission of the amendment to the electors of Philadelphia.
WHEREAS, According to data collected in 2014 through the FBI’s Universal Crime Reporting Program, nearly half of gun violence victims in Philadelphia are under the age of 25; and
WHEREAS, Aggravated assaults with guns in 2015 increased 11% over 2014, according to a Philadelphia Police Crime Report; and
WHEREAS, The number of homicide victims reported by Philadelphia Police increased from 240 in 2014 to 280 homicides in 2015; and
WHEREAS, The rate of youth firearm possession in Philadelphia is among the highest rates for major cities in the United States, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
WHEREAS, According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Center for Injury Research, almost half of the 1,378 firearm injuries in Pennsylvania in 2013 occurred in Philadelphia County; and
WHEREAS, According to population statistics and gun homicide rates for Philadelphia, the approximate gun homicide rate per 100,000 people in Philadelphia in 2014 was 13.26, a figure well above the national average of 10.64; and
WHEREAS, Gun violence disproportionately affects minority communities. According to the FBI’s Universal Crime Reporting Program, 81.4% of the shooting victims and 82.4% of shooter offenders in Philadelphia in 2014 wWHEREAS, Such disproportionate violence affecting minorities in low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia creates an impediment to neighborhood rejuvenation and detracts greatly from the overall quality of life; and
WHEREAS, Diversionary and intervention-focused programs, such as Focused Deterrence and Philadelphia Ceasefire, have helped to decrease gun violence in especially dangerous areas and have helped to deter some young citizens from gun crimes; and
WHEREAS, Despite these efforts, Philadelphia still recorded over 1,000 shooting victims in both 2014 and 2015; and
WHEREAS, Working to prevent youth gun violence will help to lower Pennsylvania’s unusually high prison population of 355,600, the 5th highest in the country according to a United States Department of Justice report from 2013; and
WHEREAS, Under Section 6 of the First Class City Home Rule Act (53 P.S. § 13106), an amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter may be proposed by a resolution of the Council of the City of Philadelphia adopted with the concurrence of two-thirds of its elected members; now, therefore
RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That the following amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter is hereby proposed and shall be submitted to the electors of the City on an election date designated by ordinance: