Philadelphia Sues State of Pennsylvania, Blames State Government for Rising Crime Rates

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney blames the rising crime rates in his city on the state government. (Photo: Jim Kenny Facebook)

The leaders of Philadelphia just joined the list of local officials looking to blame anyone but themselves for rising violent crime rates in their communities.

Mayor Jim Kenney and leaders in the city council announced today their intention to sue the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for “stoking the gun violence epidemic” in their city and elsewhere across Pennsylvania.

The city argues in its lawsuit that state preemption law “handcuffs local governments so that they cannot enact or enforce even simple, well-researched policies that have been repeatedly shown to save lives, while it also refuses to enact statewide gun safety laws.”

“By enacting and continuing to ratify the Firearm Preemption Laws, the General Assembly has increased gun violence in these municipalities, and they have affirmatively endangered the lives, health and safety of the Individual Petitioners,” the lawsuit states.

The suit asks the court to declare that the state government has violated Pennsylvanians’ right to life under the PA Constitution, and to vacate the Firearm Preemption Laws so that Philadelphia and other municipalities can implement whatever gun control laws they wish.

SEE ALSO: Pittsburgh Tries Tricky Legal Strategy to Control ‘Assault Rifle’ Use within City Limits

Their primary example is a law proposed last year by Council President Darrell L. Clarke and Councilmember Cindy Bass that would have prohibited guns and other weapons from playgrounds and recreation centers. The law passed the council in response to several murders at recreation centers in Philadelphia, and today’s press conference was held at Happy Hollow Recreation Center.

The law was stymied by the state government and never enforced. It’s unclear how banning firearms from recreation centers would keep criminals and gang members from bringing guns to those facilities.

The city press release names a number of additional “evidence-based and sensible gun regulations” it wants to pass to help quell the violence, including gun licensing schemes and one-gun-a month requirements.

Pennsylvania cities are barred from passing their own gun control regulations by state law 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6120:

No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

SEE ALSO: Protests Spark Up in Pennsylvania Following Officer-Involved Shooting of Knife-Wielding Suspect

Pennsylvania isn’t the first city to attempt to get around this law. Last year, Pittsburg tried to ban AR-type rifles by prohibiting their “use” rather than their “possession.” They also tried to ban magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition and all “armor-piercing” ammunition. 

This suit from Philadelphia comes as the city struggles with rising rates of violent crime. More people have been murdered so far this year than all of last year, and the city is on track to see more homicides this year than any year in more than a decade.

Leaders in Philadelphia blame the state government for the rise.

SEE ALSO: Philly Will Delay Arrests for Certain Crimes, Allow Lawbreakers Back on Streets

“Respondents have allowed and continue to allow gun deaths and injuries to persist at appalling rates in vulnerable Black and Hispanic communities in our Commonwealth, and as a result, Petitioners have lost the lives of their children, family members, and residents,” the lawsuit states. “Respondents are deliberately tying the hands of local governments, and people in the most affected communities will continue to lose life and limb so long as the barriers created by the Firearm Preemption Laws remain in place.”

It should also be mentioned that back in March city leaders instructed law enforcement to scale back on arresting criminals to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Instead of incarcerating offenders, police were told to confirm their identity, cite them with a ticket, and then let them back out into the streets.

Per Fox29, crimes for which there was a cite-and-set-free approach included:

  • All narcotics offenses
  • Theft from persons
  • Retail theft 
  • Theft from auto 
  • Burglary 
  • Vandalism 
  • All bench warrants 
  • Stolen auto 
  • Economic crimes
  • Prostitution

It’s not clear how this change in policing affected crime rates, nor does it appear that city leaders have considered it as a proximate cause for the spike in violence.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • DELCO October 10, 2020, 4:57 am

    I’ve lived in the suburbs of philly my entire life. 3/4 has always been a S-HOLE. We have a DA who hates the cops and like the other SOROS bought DAs won’t dare prosecute criminals who have no business among the public. Inner cities don’t have Gun problems, they have a culture problem. Unfortunately these days when you speak the truth you are called a racist. Why is it that my friends and family have grown up with plenty of firearms, yet we have never had a drive by shooting or daily shootouts in our neighborhoods? We have never even thought to shoot at a random car or have some stupid turf war. The schools in the inner cities have teachers who are afraid to teach, and a culture that doesn’t realize that the same Democratic Party has been calling the shots for generations. Philly will not get better anytime soon and probably never will become a great place again. That’s not a racist statement that is the truth.

  • DELCO October 10, 2020, 4:57 am

    I’ve lived in the suburbs of philly my entire life. 3/4 has always been a S-HOLE. We have a DA who hates the cops and like the other SOROS bought DAs won’t dare prosecute criminals who have no business among the public. Inner cities don’t have Gun problems, they have a culture problem. Unfortunately these days when you speak the truth you are called a racist. Why is it that my friends and family have grown up with plenty of firearms, yet we have never had a drive by shooting or daily shootouts in our neighborhoods? We have never even thought to shoot at a random car or have some stupid turf war. The schools in the inner cities have teachers who are afraid to teach, and a culture that doesn’t realize that the same Democratic Party has been calling the shots for generations. Philly will not get better anytime soon and probably never will become a great place again. That’s not a racist statement that is the truth.

  • FirstStateMark October 9, 2020, 7:40 pm

    Kenney blames the state!? Watch this mother fucker dance when he won his city as a “sanctuary city” status.
    He’s wants to abolish ICE and then he blames the state?! What a fucking waste of human life.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BR5zyjYP84

  • Robert Messmer October 9, 2020, 11:39 am

    Quote: “…playgrounds and recreation centers.” Apparently playgrounds and recreation centers are the only place in the city where people are being killed. Instead of wasting time and lots of taxpayers’ money since both sides and the Court all get paid by the same group the easy solution would be to close the playgrounds and recreation centers. /sarcasm off

  • Robert October 9, 2020, 10:20 am

    This mayor and liberals like him are just scary stupid. He actually believes a gun law banning guns from the rec center would’ve stopped the shootings, house simple minded. He states that gun violence has skyrocketed in black and Hispanic communities, maybe if they didn’t release people committing crimes and actually prosecuted them things might get a little better.

  • Russ October 9, 2020, 10:04 am

    Once again an imbecilic democrat doesn’t want to blame criminals for their illegal deeds using guns illegally. Their mentality is always to blame others. Hopefully good people see this and vote them out. If not you get what you deserve.

  • Griffendad October 9, 2020, 8:56 am

    I understand they tried to reach the mayor for comment but he was in Maryland having lunch with “a friend” where they had no dictatorial face mask rules.
    He’s a little prick, and a poor mayor too.

    • Russ October 9, 2020, 10:06 am

      Well said about that liberal prick in Philadelphia.

  • Andrew Ling October 9, 2020, 5:42 am

    This sounds like as if law abiding gun owners are stupid idiots and criminals are King in the good old Philly! How in the world can you punish rightful citizens for the deeds of the criminals by disarming them? Armed security for elected officials don’t give them the rights to disarm helpless citizens. Next time, vote these politicians out. This is the reason why we have elections.

  • Paul October 8, 2020, 1:43 pm

    “Proven methods that work” WTF is that???? What proof? The only proven method would be shoot and kill any criminal with a gun, that would stop it!!!

  • Mark N. October 8, 2020, 1:05 am

    “Gun bans have worked so well in New York, Chicago, Baltimore and D.C. that we want to have our own bans too.” *Cough cough*
    Well-researched bad social science is still bad science, and gun bans will not prevent gang members from getting guns to shoot each other with. The problem is that big cities have so much crime they ave no place to lock people up for committing violent crimes, so perpetrators serve little if any time on gun charges and are back on the streets again with another stolen firearm.

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