Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney immediately called for increased gun control in the wake of an alarming incident where a convicted felon shot and wounded six police officers attempting to serve a drug-related warrant.
“Our officers need help,” he told CBS News. “They need help. They need help with gun control. They need help with keeping these weapons out of these people’s hands.”
He doubled down in his call for gun control when he told ABC News, “If the state and federal government don’t want to stand up to the NRA and other folks, let us police ourselves. Our officers deserve to be protected and don’t deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with an unlimited amount of weapons and bullets. It’s disgusting.”
We agree. It is disgusting. No convicted felon including Maurice Hill, who has been sent to prison at least a dozen times for crimes including illegal possession of a firearm and assault, should ever have the ability to get their hands on a firearm. No police officer should be in a position where their life is in danger by such a dangerous criminal. No citizen should be left defenseless against that same criminal while they’re waiting on police.
Most of all, no city should be left helpless by an elected official who would grandstand even when faced with stark evidence of the effects of their unwillingness to enforce existing laws.
Mayor Kenney was rebuked by Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, in a response to the National Review. “Hill is a threat to everyone around him not because he may or may not be an NRA member but because he has embarked on a life of crime. That is what the problem is.”
This isn’t a failure of lacking laws. It’s a failure of executive leadership willing to enforce those laws. Hill was sentenced for his crimes and he even served time for illegal possession of guns. Hill’s convictions on assault, drug charges, illegal weapons possession, escaping, fleeing from police, and resisting arrest, along with prison sentences barred him from legally possessing a firearm. That’s not to mention his charges that didn’t stick, including kidnapping and attempted murder.
It’s not just Hill. He and his high-profile crimes of shooting police are indicative of a larger problem in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love’s homicide rate is the highest in a decade, even as nationally, it trends down. Hill’s repeated illegal possession of firearms and attempted murder and wounding of police speaks to what we’ve been saying. Criminals aren’t getting their firearms through legal means. They are obtaining them through theft and the black market.
Mayor Kenney wants to blame guns for Hill’s crimes. He’s not alone. Just days later, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order for state police and other agencies to report back to him in six months with recommendations to reduce crimes committed with firearms.
Here are our recommendations: Enforce your laws; place the blame from crimes committed with guns on those who commit the crimes; and put criminals in jail. Mayor, fulfill your oath and live up to your responsibilities.
The firearms industry is committed to Real Solutions for Safer CommunitiesSM. The first step in making our towns and cities safer is holding criminals accountable. If elected leaders won’t do that, they should be held to account for failing in their duties.
Lawrence Keane is the Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.