Violent crime "is becoming more of a sport."
That's how the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House, John Perzal, characterized the violence that has engulfed Philadelphia and spread throughout Pennsylvannia. Perzal told his fellow state lawmakers, "From one end of the state to the other, the stories go on and on and on, and the madness continues." Violent crime, he said, "is becoming more of a sport."
On Tuesday 2,000 Pennsylvanians, many of whom had lost loved ones to gun violence, descended on the state capital to demand tougher gun laws to stem the bloody tide of rising gun violence in the state. Across the country, the Department of Justice reported this month that the rate of firearm violence increased almost 50 percent between 2004 and 2005.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House yesterday confirmed its role as head cheerleader for gun crime by passing legislation (H.R. 5092) that makes it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to revoke the licenses of corrupt gun dealers. Ignoring, as usual, law enforcement opposition such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and, well, facts (corrupt gun dealers are the highest volume supplier of illegally trafficked guns), the House voted 277-131 to pass legislation that actually makes ignorance of the law an excuse whenever ATF moves to revoke a dealer's license (which they hardly ever do anyway).
The House had more gun happy legislation waiting in the wings, including a bill to further restrict the access of state and local governments as well as law enforcement agencies to the crime gun trace data that is crucial to stopping illegal gun trafficking, but, mercifully, ran out of time to pass it.
In the meantime, Pennsylvanians can look back to the days when football was the "sport" garnering the most headlines in their state.