Philadelphia is suing three local gun shops that city officials allege have knowingly sold firearms to “straw purchasers” who buy guns on behalf of people who are legally prohibited from doing so, such as juveniles or people with criminal records, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“These gun shop owners turn a blind eye to the consequences of their actions,” Mayor Jim Kenney said at a City news conference. “They know exactly what they’re doing. … They are profiting off the mayhem that they help create.”
Kenney has long complained that the city’s hands are tied when it comes to combating the ongoing gun violence crisis due to Pennsylvania’s weak gun laws, which allow weapons to flow freely into the city, and to the state’s prohibition on municipalities enacting their own gun control measures.
At gun buyback programs, Philadelphians turns their firearms over to the city’s Police Department
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of attempts by the city to gain some leverage over the issue through the courts. It comes three weeks after Kenney announced a separate lawsuit aimed at manufacturers of “ghost guns,” untraceable and increasingly common weapons that can be purchased without background checks and assembled at home.
Little has come so far of the city’s various attempts at litigation over gun control. But Kenney said his administration will pursue every opportunity it has to reduce shootings and homicides.
As of Monday, Philadelphia police had recorded 240 homicides in 2023, a staggering sum that underscores the city is still mired in a persistent public safety crisis that began in 2020. This year’s total is 22% lower than at the same point in 2021, a year in which the city set a record with 562 homicides.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Tuesday she is optimistic the numbers will continue going in the right direction.
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