PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council is preparing to sue the state so the city can enact its own gun laws. It comes as Philadelphia has seen an 82% increase in homicides compared to this time last year.
Thirty-two people have been killed so far this year in the city. The council says it’s going to take everyone working together to reverse the rising trend of gun violence.
It’s a trend that’s affecting everyone personally, even at the highest levels of city government.
“He was a hard-working man who took care of his family,” Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore Richardson said.
Thursday marked Richardson’s first City Council meeting. She used her time to talk about her cousin, John Rawls Jr., who was murdered on his front porch Saturday night.
“His murder marked the 25th homicide this year,” she said.
Police say Rawls was shot in an attempted robbery on Bambrey Street in North Philadelphia.
She’s now calling on city leaders to declare a state of emergency.
“We cannot go on as if this is normal. What’s happening in Philadelphia is not normal. Children are being murdered, my own cousin murdered, and it’s time for us to do more,” Richardson said.
Over two dozen bills were introduced at Thursday’s council meeting.
Among them was legislation that would authorize the city to hire a lawyer so the city could sue the state for the authority to enact its own gun laws.
Also in a resolution that passed, the Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention will hold public hearings on the effects of gun violence on victims.
“I’m worried about the fact that people are afraid to go out of their houses because there’s a likelihood that they may get shot. That’s what I’m worried about,” City Council President Darrell Clarke said.
Meanwhile, police say they need cooperation from everyone if anything is going to change.
“We’re working every single day, hard, to make the city safer and I would encourage them to get involved whether it’s through mentoring, volunteering somehow — get involved in your community,” Philadelphia Police Inspector Derrick Wood said.
The council plans to take public comment on its measure to sue the state at next week’s meeting.