By Landsay Franckoeur, student at Stockton University
2021 was a very turbulent time, with natural disasters and acts of violence affecting many across the country. This was also true in Philadelphia since 562 homicides occurred in 2021. Thus making 2021 the deadliest year in the metropolis’ history. 2022 is gearing up to follow this devastating trend with there being 71 homicides in Philly as of February 21st. Along with that there were 217 nonfatal and 59 fatal shooting victims as of Feb 17th, 2022. The rise of violence in Philadelphia may not be a surprise to many but what propelled it to this capacity?
There is no major reason for the increase in violence; many experts blame the COVID-19 pandemic for the surge of violence in Philadelphia and other major U.S. cities, along with the rise in gun violence in Philadelphia. The pandemic has seemingly increased the amount of violent acts to an astronomic level, breaking historic records. When compared to 2020, shooting deaths increased by 23%. In contrast, 5 years ago, fatal shootings in the city went up to a staggering 95%.
Another suspected culprit for the rise of violence is the increase in gun ownership in the city. With there being an estimated 40.7% of Pennsylvanians having guns in their homes—gun ownership is definitely more prevalent now. Many citizens are buying guns at an exceedingly high rate, experts say gun purchases have soared following a turbulent 2020. Guns are being stolen at a high rate as well, with reports of stolen guns reaching its peak last year at 1,388 according to police records. The number of reports are 11% higher than the year prior and 38% higher than in 2019.
Similarly, to how there is not only one reason for the rise of brutality in the city, there isn’t one solution to it either. There have been many ideas for initiatives and programs from community activists to lawmakers to aid Philadelphia’s violence issue. In fact, Mayor Kenney has stated that, “..the city is investing in organizations with proven records of delivering quality anti-violence intervention.” He has also employed Operation Pinpoint Strategy which has shown overall reductions in violent crime in multiple districts throughout the city.
Along with Kenney, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has recently announced that an additional $15 million will be added to the state-approved $30 million from last year to help combat the rise of violent crimes. At the federal level, President Joe Biden’s administration chose Philadelphia to be one of 15 cities across the country to take part in a collaborative effort to share violence prevention strategies. Actions on this issue are being made at local, state, and federal levels of the government.
There are also ways that someone at home can help stop violence if not in Philadelphia as a whole, but in your area at the very least. From seemingly simple tasks such as making sure your streets and homes are well-lighted. Along with cleaning up your neighborhood of graffiti, litter, and abandoned cars with the help of your local public works department which is always one call away. You can also participate in more involved tasks like working with schools to develop drug free zones and curating and sharing a list of organizations and services that can help your fellow neighbor get counseling and job training.
Though the rise of violence is disheartening to watch, seeing community leaders and government officials alike rally around one mission—to end the rise of violence— can give one hope that Philadelphia will once again be the city of brotherly love.