Rampant gun violence continues to plague Philadelphia.
A total of 322 homicides through Aug. 2 put the City of Brotherly Love on pace to surpass last year's record total.
With more than 1,400 people this year having been shot, hundreds fatally, Philadelphia had a higher number than in much larger cities of Los Angeles or New York.
Shootings have been concentrated in certain neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia, considered the poorest parts of what is often called the country's poorest big city.
"Everybody is armed," Jonathan Wilson, director of the nonprofit Fathership Foundation, told The New York Times. "Nobody's without a gun in these ZIP codes, because they've always been dangerous."
Gun violence also has erupted in other areas of Philadelphia. Three people died and at least 11 were injured in a June mass shooting on a street packed with bar and restaurant traffic.
After two police officers were shot at a Fourth of July celebration, some city council leaders suggested returning to the police tactic of stop-and-frisk.
"There are a lot of citizens in the streets of the city of Philadelphia that talk about, 'When are we going to look at stop-and-frisk in a constitutional and active way?'" said Darrell L. Clarke, the council president. "Those are conversations that people have to have."
Mayor Jim Kenney recently said that the authorities "keep taking guns off the street, and they're simultaneously replaced almost immediately."
However, according to a city report earlier this year, the problem is worse than that. For every illegal gun seized by the police in Philadelphia between 1999 and 2019, about three were bought or sold legally, the Times reported Thursday.
The number of firearm licenses issued in the city jumped from around 7,400 in 2020 to more than 52,000 in 2021 — and that doesn’t include illegal guns.
In the past two years, reports of stolen guns have spiked and many more guns have been found that were illegally converted into fully automatic weapons, police said.
The city also has a progressive district attorney, Larry Krasner, who insists that focusing on arresting people caught carrying firearms without a permit is counterproductive because it diverts police energy and resources from solving violent crime, and it alienates people whom investigators need as sources and witnesses.
"You can make massive numbers of gun arrests, and you do not see significant reductions in shootings," Krasner said in an interview, the Times reported.
There were no arrests in three quarters of last year's fatal shootings, according to statistics provided by Krasner’s office.
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