An Open Letter to Congressman Fattah

Congressman Fattah,

I read today in the Philadelphia Daily News about your crime plan for Philadelphia which is summarized as:

More cops investigating illegal guns, better rewards for tips about dirty firearms, and extra surveillance cameras to catch gun-toting bad guys.

Those are the basics of mayoral candidate Chaka Fattah’s plan to fight illegal guns, which he will announce today at Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia does not have a gun problem, it has a criminal problem. Until you shift the focus away from the guns and toward violent individuals that are committing crimes, you’re going to keep having this problem. I am happy to see that you at least admit this:

The majority of guns used to kill people in Philadelphia and around the nation are illegal,” said Fattah, a Democratic congressman.

Which is true. So why does your Congressional record and public statements contain so much support for restricting lawful gun ownership? Also, how does “targeted gun officers” that “clear firearms off the streets.” help anything? I am in favor of adding more officers to the city streets, but they need to go after the criminals, not the guns. The guns are a symptom, not the cause of your city’s social ills. Even if all the guns could be cleared off the street, if you left the criminals, they will just get more guns and commit more crimes, leaving the city right back where it started.

I’d also like you to explain how “a network of 1,000 police video surveillance cameras throughout the city” would help catch “gun-toting bad guys”. I’m fairly certain that gun toting bad guys aren’t openly carrying firearms around the city, such that they would be caught on camera. I also hope you are aware that there are approximately 32,000 citizens in your city who are lawfully licensed to carry firearms for self-protection, and approximately similar numbers in all the suburban counties. I hope your “gun officers” will treat these people with the respect and courtesy that they deserve.

We all want to see Philadelphia become a safer place, but I’m disappointed you’re perpetuating the myth that guns cause crime. We all know that’s not true. I would encourage you to focus on the criminals, and on finding productive ways to bring jobs and people back into the city. Focusing your energy on inanimate objects is only distracting people from the real problem, and doing a disservice to the city you want to be mayor of.



2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Congressman Fattah”

  1. I’d also add “Make sure Sylvester Johnson isn’t employed by the Philadelphia Police Department in any capacity whatsoever.” I wouldn’t even let him work in the mail room. This guy has to be the worst commissioner in the history of the PPD. Nevermind making me miss the man he replaced, John Timony, he makes me pine for Richard Neal.

    The police commissioner has such a large effect on how the whole police department operates. If the commissioner is content to blame Harrisburg and Washington for Philadelphia’s ills instead of taking matters into his own hands, how are the beat cops going to look at the situation? They’re going to feel ineffective and powerless. Largely, they have been just that.

  2. I agree with you about Johnson, but I think Washington does share some blame here, because of the focus on terrorism over generic crime. I think it was a mistake to spend shift so many resources toward catching foreign terrorists that we have ignored the domestic ones that are causing most of the violence: the gangs. But terrorism scares the folks in the quiet suburban countryside, who have money and vote, so poor urban black males shooting each other, I guess, doesn’t rise to the level of crisis, which is a shame. Policing the streets is one of the primary functions of government, which I all but the most radical libertarians would agree with, and not something we should short change on funding. Effective policing is the most effective social programs you can implement to turn the fortunes of a city around.

    It’s a shame no one really seems to want to show any real leadership on this issue in the city.

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