Philadelphia‘s Democratic mayor imposed a ban on guns at playgrounds and recreation centers Tuesday after the death of a city worker, another example of a rising tide of violence in major cities that conservatives blame on lax law enforcement.
Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order prohibiting firearms at any of the city’s 159 rec centers.
“There’s no place for a gun anywhere, but especially in pools, playgrounds or rec centers,” said Mr. Kenney. “This is to give some peace of mind and capacity for rec center employees to call the police when they see somebody with a gun in their waistband or someone’s threatening to go out to their car and get a gun because they didn’t like a call the [basketball] referee made.”
As of Monday night, 400 people in Philadelphia had been killed by gun violence this year. That’s slightly ahead of last year’s pace when the city set a record for homicides.
One of the people killed this year was 41-year-old Tiffany Fletcher, a mother of three, who was struck by a stray bullet Sept. 9 while working at the Mill Creek rec center. A 14-year-old boy has been charged with her death.
Mr. Kenney’s office said there have been 18 incidents of gun violence at city rec centers and playgrounds this year.
The mayor’s action is likely to run afoul of state law, which bars municipalities from creating their own gun regulations. Others said the gun ban is unenforceable.
Former city deputy managing director Jay McCalla called the executive order “bogus” and a “pure PR gesture.”
“Without a ring of cops ‘stopping & frisking,’ it’s unenforceable,” Mr. McCalla tweeted.
Rising violent crime is looming as an issue in the upcoming midterm elections. A survey this month by the Major Cities Chiefs Association showed that violent crime overall has increased 4.4% this year, while robberies have risen 13%.
Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz has been criticizing his Democratic opponent in Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, for being soft on criminals in his role as head of the state pardons board. An Oz campaign spokeswoman said Tuesday that Mr. Fetterman’s views “will make Pennsylvanian families and communities less safe.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has been roundly criticized for lenient prosecution policies, called the mayor’s gun ban “a very positive step forward.”
Mr. Kenney criticized the state government for preventing cities and towns from creating their own gun laws.
“Because this state is the way it is, people can get a permit to carry for no reason and carry anything they want. … It’s all literally insane,” the mayor said.
The state legislature has been controlled largely by Republicans in recent years. The state’s policy, which is known as preemption and exists in many other states, prohibits municipalities from creating and enforcing local gun laws. Courts have consistently struck down efforts by cities such as Philadelphia to ban assault weapons and restrict handgun purchases.
State law says: “No county, municipality, or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer, or transportation of firearms, ammunition, or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this commonwealth.”