Story by: EMMANUEYNE DARGBEH / Academy at Palumbo
Photo by: SYDNEY GEATHERS / Paul Robeson High School
“It’s just as easy as getting weed” says Quinzel Tomoney, outreach coordinator and supervisor of Philadelphia Ceasefire, on how easy it is to get a gun in Philly.
You may be wondering what is Ceasefire? Ceasefire is a structured, deliberate and disciplined violence intervention that was developed in Chicago based on the premise that violence is a public health issue and can be prevented. The goal is to duplicate the program in Philly.
This evidence-based methodology of the Ceasefire Chicago public health model and focus aims its efforts to stop shootings and killings in the 22nd Police District in North Philly. The approach includes efforts to heighten community awareness about gun violence and encourage area residents, community, business and faith- based leaders to work together and get involved.
How have guns become as American as Apple Pie? It is almost impossible to eliminate guns in Philadelphia. There are just TOO MANY! In 2009, Pennsylvania mayors took aim on illegal guns, supporting sensible gun violence legislation such as limiting handgun sales to one gun per month. Unfortunately that didn’t work. Every day, illegal handguns shatter the lives of too many Pennsylvanians. It is far too easy for criminals to get their hands on guns in this State and to be frank, most likely that is not going to change anytime soon.
Giving guns for money was another way the government tried to stop the spread of guns. There are many flaws in that plan and that is maybe why it didn’t work out so well. One of the reasons why it didn’t work is because most people who own guns usually own more than one, which means if they trade in a gun, they will still have another.
Another reason is that most of these guns were used to commit a crime, so giving it
away will be getting rid of the evidence. Usually, on the streets, a gun sells for $200 dollars or higher, and the government was offering $80 to $150 dollars, which made people less likely to turn in their guns.
“We all pay for shootings” says Co-Director of Philadelphia Ceasefire, Marla D. Bellamy. In the 22nd District alone there are 70 to 80 shootings yearly. Some people feel that this should not be happening. Something needs to be done and immediately.
“These are your people dying, you don’t have to know someone who has been killed by a gun to get involved,” said Tomoney. In the last three years from 2008 through 2010, Philadelphia recorded a total of 697 homicides by firearms. Last year, 10% of the city’s 362 homicides were in the 22nd district in North Philadelphia, an area with less than 2% of the city’s population.
No American city better showcases the epidemic of youth violence than Philadelphia, also known as “Killadephia”. Individuals responsible for shootings and killings need to be held accountable to the community for their actions. This is not an end that can be achieved without the involvement of police until the mentality of the community completely changes.