Pennsylvania Democrats Not Interested in Enforcing Gun Laws

July 10, 2019


Matthew Hoy

Two top Democrat prosecutors have indicated that a new law designed to ensure that those violating gun laws get prosecuted will not use that authority.

The Pennsylvania legislature earlier this year passed a law allowing so-called "concurrent jurisdiction" for the city of Philadelphia. The law is targeted at Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner who has made it a policy to drop charges against people who violate laws against straw purchases or who are felons in possession of firearms.

The new law allows state Attorney General Josh Shapiro to prosecute those crimes—an ability he has indicated he is unlikely to use.

[Shapiro spokesman Joe] Grace said the attorney general's office did not advocate for concurrent jurisdiction in Philadelphia and "does not plan to unilaterally use this authority."

A common complaint among 2nd Amendment advocates is that gun-control advocates are always interested in new laws, but not so much in enforcing existing laws—an issue some lawmakers were trying to enforce.

Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said there are not concerns in other counties about district attorneys not pursuing certain gun crimes.

"My understanding is that the district attorney was not prosecuting in particular two specific crimes relating to the illegal possession of firearms in the city of Philadelphia," Kauffman said Tuesday. "That was an issue of concern and contention."

Krasner, who just five months ago reiterated his belief that gun owners whose guns are lost are stolen should face the full force of the law, has not been so tough on felons found in possession of firearms or others carrying without a permit.

Krasner, who regularly sued the Philadelphia police as a civil lawyer before being elected district attorney on a platform to reverse "mass incarceration," has been much more likely than his predecessor to allow defendants in gun cases to enter a diversion program designed for first-time, nonviolent offenders, according to an analysis by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"At a time when vulnerable communities are hurting from poverty, discriminatory policing, draconian incarceration policies and gun violence, the justice movement must clearly and forcefully reject political shots at reformers like Larry Krasner intended to maintain the status quo," [Krasner spokeswoman Jane] Roh said.

And what's been happening in Philadelphia since Krasner began his crusade against "mass incarceration"?

The policy dispute is playing out at bloody time for the city, where the rate of homicides this year is about the same as it was in 2018, when Philadelphia recorded 349 of them, the most since 2007.

Philadelphia voters got what they asked for with DA Krasner. Legislators in the statehouse tried to offer an opportunity to ameliorate parts of that error, but the state's Democratic attorney general refuses to save them from themselves.

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