The Scourge of Gun Violence Continues in Philadelphia

The recent murder of Tony Martin adds to a litany of Philadelphians felled by the scourge of guns.  Tony Martin was an idle of mine when he was known as the 'Punching Postman'.  His largesse at dual careers allowed him to meet Julio Cesar Chavez in 1997 for a welterweight title fight.  It was his last fight and he lost.  He will live on in my memory as a dedicated professional.  How sad to have his life ended purportedly by a visitor to one of his tenants.  He was collecting rent and living his life.  Recently, a young man was murdered outside of the bus of French Montana, another outside of Club Onyx and yet another long time community advocate at the hands of a relative.  The list can go on and on but most of the victims are minority males probably at the hand of another minority male.

I wonder why Commissioner Ramsey was called to attend the assault gun ban hearings conducted by Vice President Joe Biden.  It would seem like our city would have better numbers to present to be on a national stage.  As of this week in Philadelphia, according to the Police Department, there have been 39 murders, 323 aggravated assaults with a gun and 497 robberies at gun point.  This is almost 870 instances of an individual consciously deciding to impose their will on someone else with sometimes deadly force.  I feel that economic inequality is a root cause of this violence but there have to be some solutions proposed that can save lives soon.

I mentioned Sabir Bryant in a previous article.  He was a 19 year old former student of mine.  He was murdered senselessly in Southwest Philadelphia.  There will be a march in his memory on Wednesday in hopes of finding a suspect and also to bring attention to the deadly assault on minority males in our community.  Sabir could have been a leader in our community.  He could have been a great father and provider.  Sadly, he won't get a chance to fulfill his dreams.  Also, the perpetrator is probably someone he knew and will eventually get caught for his crimes.

I remember that was a law guaranteeing a minimum of 5 years for any crime committed with a gun.  There are also minimum sentences for individuals committing straw purchase for convicted felons.  Politicians and police will call for tougher crackdowns in light of calamities like the one that occurred in Sandy Hook, CT with the young children slain in a massacre.  The sustained murder rate in Philadelphia and other major and mid range cities makes one wonder about the effectiveness of existing policies.  Many of the murder, robbery and assault victims I mentioned earlier in this article wish there could be stronger laws.  The young lady, Hadiyah Pendleton, who attended an inaugural event in DC and was subsequently murdered cry out for a drastic reduction in the amount of guns on the street.  As a result of pending legislation involving assault weapon reduction, gun sales have skyrocketed.  I cannot figure this out. 

Gun rights advocates will say that guns don't kill, people kill.  People are being killed by the individuals that are deciding to use guns for murder.  The instances of self defense or defense of property are slight compared to the overall murder rate.  I wish we could be more like London with their dramatic gun reduction rates.  It is not just political will that is needed but a resolve to improve the quality of life for those yet to be affected by hot lead in their bodies.  Human beings are defenseless against the increasing power and deadly effects of more modern guns.  The great equalizers are still ruining lives and futures in Philadelphia.  I hope that some reduction strategy can work in the near future.

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