SO HOW DOES a preteen boy, like the one who tried to rob an aspiring neurologist and a Daily News reporter in West Philly this week, get a gun? (See story, Page 5.)
"There are guys who pass around guns sometimes through neighborhood association and there are bar owners who have rent-a-gun programs going on," said City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. who hosted a multimedia briefing Tuesday by journalists from GunCrisis.org at City Hall as Council seeks new ways to address gun violence.
"That's a complicated problem that's going to take a complicated solution," said Jones who was joined by Council members Bill Greenlee, Cindy Bass, Kenyatta Johnson, David Oh and Jannie Blackwell.
Inspired by a conference organized by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma last year and antiviolence campaigns in cities like Chicago, former Daily News photographer Jim MacMillan launched GunCrisis.org in March.
"The ultimate goal is to put ourselves out of business, to stop the killing or more reasonably perhaps to reduce the gun violence in the city dramatically," MacMillan said. "We're hoping to expedite the transformation to a more peaceful Philadelphia."
The organization, which includes four volunteers and two interns, aims to provide solutions to gun violence in the city, which through Monday had reached a total of 207 homicides. Greenlee described the gun violence as "completely ridiculous" and asked for suggested solutions.
MacMillan said that partnerships that include community engagement and strong governmental leadership, prevention programs and a strategic plan could help address the city's violent-crime problem.
That crime is costly. During Tuesday's presentation, GunCrisis.org intern Aaron Moser, an incoming senior at Swarthmore College, said that Philadelphia has the highest number of homicides per 100,000 population when compared to other major cities. The report also showed that a 25 percent reduction in crime could save the city $43 million. Total annual costs are reportedly $3.7 billion, which includes medical, police, justice system and loss of business.
City Council has tried to tackle the issue of gun violence before, but Council's gun-control efforts haven't stood up in court because the state has the right to regulate guns.
"There seems to be no outrage by the real people who can do something about it and those people are in Harrisburg," Bass said. "I don't know about you, but I'm sick of it."