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Gun Control

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"GUN CONTROL"

A POLICY AGENDA ISSUE IN

PHILADELPHIA, PA

BY:

Kay Bradley

GP 503 PUBLIC POLICY

DR. G. HENDERSON

SUMMER 2006

INTRODUCTION

In Philadelphia, there have been a rash number of shootings, which have resulted in an astronomical amount of homicides due to gun violence. Those against guns are revising every proposal that they have tried unsuccessfully to use to reduce crime. They have sponsored gun buy-backs, demonized gun owners and are now urging a gubernatorial advisory committee to endorse a proposal to limit handgun purchases in the entire state of Pennsylvania to one per month.

Gun control activists are calling for the elimination of the state law on firearms law preemption. This law in Pennsylvania prohibits cities and towns from imposing local gun-control ordinances. Philadelphia's homicide tally is currently 238, which is 26 more than at this same point in 2005, about 1,800 people have been shot this year thus far. This problem obviously caused a change in homicide statistics in Philadelphia. That, coupled with the media coverage, and the political leadership initiatives has moved this issue closer to the top of the systemic agenda in the state, more importantly, the city.

This issue is highly important to me as it involves innocent victims dying daily. I have lost my brother, less than a year ago to senseless gun violence and these heinous activities should be deterred and/or prevented. Too many children are being affected by this epidemic.

I will be focusing on the local government and its' hope in urging the state government to allow local government to impose gun control ordinances and laws. The city of Philadelphia's mayor, has urged the regions citizens to contact their state representative and senators to urge them to support the governor of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia in their attempts to reduce gun violence( Mayor Street's Speech, Philly.com, 7/27/2007). The Brady campaign promotes the prevention of gun violence by promoting sensible gun laws nationwide (bradycampaign.com.) The media has done its part by illustrating the problem and the need for immediate attention of this matter.

My plan then is to demonstrate in this paper, the issue at hand, and the factors that have contributed to where this issue is and what's holding this issue back. How cloakroom politics is taking place, the constraints and opposition to this policy problem and the future of this issue. Once finished, one should have a clear understanding of where this policy issue stands with respect to the local and state government.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ISSUE

In the past year, several programs have been launched to stem violence. Some emphasize the warm and fuzzy-shore up families; encourage churches to be involved with their neighborhoods. Some attack the basics, more cop patrols in certain communities. But all are needed to keep the statistical horse race, and the race to save human lives from getting out of hand and causing too many tragedies to our children.

The gun violence issue in Philadelphia, to me, deserves considerable investigation and attention into lessening the epidemic. To some, it may be seen as a crisis situation which involves problems that are very difficult for chief executives to ignore, but yet they usually give chief executives a good deal of flexibility in choosing a response (Gormley, 157). To others, it may not be as serious and because of that, no immediate action is taking place. The Brady Campaign though, has had considerable support in their fight for gun violence prevention, and the support has increased drastically over the past 25 years that it has been in operation. This campaign has also been very instrumental in the fight against gun violence and illegal guns (bradycampaign.com). As previously stated, thus far, there has been 238 homicides and 1,800 people shot in Philadelphia this year. This issue is very severe as it affects many people. Most importantly, it affects our children. If it's not our youth themselves, being innocent bystanders, in the wrong place at the wrong time, then it is their parents, siblings or other relatives that are becoming victims to these senseless acts. This issue is becoming more prominent and has gotten the local governments attention. It is highly visible as it has received much media coverage and several families are being affected. Something has to be done to prevent this epidemic from happening as consistently. There are several grassroots organizations leading the fight to prevent gun violence. Proponents of the prevention of gun violence work to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations, and public policies through grassroots activism, electing public officials who support gun laws, and increasing public awareness of gun violence. Citizens of Philadelphia are in a position to enhance this power that they possess, to get results.

FACTORS AFFECTING ITS AGENDA STATUS

In the Pennsylvania Constitution, there is the Declaration of Rights; this is primarily a list of "don'ts" for the General Assembly in that it prohibits the enactment of laws that would infringe on certain rights (www.legis.state.pa.us). Section 21 of this Declaration is the Right to Bear Arms. This states that the right of the citizen to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned. The Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act defines " firearm" as any pistol or revolver with a barrel less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches, any rifle with a barrel of less than 16 inches or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches(www.nraila.org/GunLaws/StateLaws). This obviously includes a plethora of the firearms manufactured. The only way article 21 can be amended is to propose the amendment in either the Senate or the House of Representatives, but it must pass in both by a majority vote of the members elected. Three months before the next general election, the proposed amendment is published in at least two newspapers in every county. After the election, the amendment must again be approved through a majority vote of the members of the General Assembly. The amendment is again published and voted on by the entire electorate. If passed by a majority vote, then amendment becomes part of the Constitution (www.legis.state.pa.us).

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