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End the Krasner impeachment sideshow | Editorial

GOP efforts to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner detract from the real ways lawmakers can address gun violence.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.Read moreMONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

One of the many downsides of having one of the nation’s largest and most expensive full-time legislatures is paying lawmakers who too often waste taxpayers’ time and money.

Just look at the stunt being proposed by three Republican state legislators who want to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner because they don’t like the progressive reforms he has implemented.

As part of their scheme, State Reps. Timothy O’Neal, Josh Kail, and Torren Ecker cited a rise in shootings and murders in Philadelphia on Krasner’s watch. The trio, who live hours away from Philadelphia, claimed that the recent mass shooting on South Street prompted them to seek Krasner’s removal from office.

No one should be happy with the daily shootings and record murders in Philadelphia. But O’Neal, Kail, and Ecker only add another insult to the gun crisis plaguing every corner of the country with their disingenuous impeachment ruse.

» READ MORE: Three Pa. House Republicans say they’ll try to impeach Philly DA Larry Krasner

In trying to oust Krasner, the three lawmakers ignore that the rise in gun violence is not just a Philly thing. Murders have spiked 40% nationwide since 2019.

More to the point, the three legislators have brief and undistinguished records. They don’t agree with the district attorney’s policies, and their efforts are going nowhere.

For the gambit to succeed, the state House would first have to investigate Krasner and find real wrongdoing. A House majority would need to vote to impeach him. Then the Senate would have to hold a trial. Only if two-thirds of the Senate voted to convict him could Krasner be removed from office.

All that takes time and resources in a state facing other challenges demanding its attention. Not to mention, in the history of Pennsylvania, only two public officials have been impeached, and those cases were much more clear-cut.

In a constitutional democracy, the best way to remove elected officials is through the ballot box. In Krasner’s case, there was an election in November and he won a second term by a landslide. But in an alarming trend, too many Republicans don’t support free and fair elections when their side doesn’t win.

“Any effort to impeach Krasner would only disenfranchise the overwhelming majority of voters in Philadelphia.”

The Inquirer Editorial Board

Any effort to impeach Krasner would only disenfranchise the overwhelming majority of voters in Philadelphia who clearly support the district attorney’s efforts.

To be sure, Krasner is not perfect, and it would be better for everyone if Philadelphia’s top prosecutor, the police, City Council, and the mayor worked together to reduce gun violence. But some of Krasner’s reforms, such as releasing numerous wrongfully convicted individuals and holding corrupt cops accountable, are welcome and overdue.

As for O’Neal, Kail, and Ecker, they should stick to representing their districts far away from Philadelphia. O’Neal’s district is closer to West Virginia than it is to Independence Hall, Kail’s district borders Ohio, and Ecker’s horseshoe-shaped, gerrymandered district is only 30 minutes from Maryland.

If O’Neal, Kail, and Ecker are serious about reducing shootings and murders in Philadelphia, they could support the city’s efforts to implement its own gun safety laws. Better yet, they could work with their Republican colleagues to bolster gun safety laws across Pennsylvania, where lax regulations and easy access contribute to someone getting shot almost every two hours. Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s senseless ruling on Thursday expanding gun rights, even more action is needed to improve public safety and prevent more shootings.

The truth is O’Neal, Kail, and Ecker have no interest in reducing shootings in Philadelphia, let alone protecting their own constituents. Otherwise, they would have opposed their Republican colleagues on a House committee that blocked a package of gun safety laws — including a ban on assault weapons — that could have reduced the senseless bloodshed.

Instead, O’Neal, Kail, and Ecker opted for a sideshow.