Gun Violence is Destroying Our City and We Are Tired.

<p>Gun violence sculpture depicting deeper message in relation to what guns have done to our society | Source: Unsplash</p>

Gun violence sculpture depicting deeper message in relation to what guns have done to our society | Source: Unsplash

Gun violence is an epidemic. It has destroyed the city of Philadelphia, snatching people's lives in every community, young and old. Despite what many elected officials say, gun violence is a massive problem, rapidly altering the dynamics of Philadelphia.

Since 2020, gun violence has been on the rise. The city faced 499 homicides in 2020, and it didn’t stop there. In 2021, the city reached 562 homicides, surpassing the 1990s’ 500, one of Philadelphia’s deadliest years. According to Elyne Vaught, a prosecutor in King County, Wash, unlike the 90s gang-orientated shootings, today's shootings are due to “petty offenses” and “petty conflicts.” As someone who lived in  Philadelphia, I know that to be true.

Anger, jealousy, disappointment, and vengeance are some of the feelings attached to why people pull the trigger causing petty offenses. And, unsurprisingly, all these feelings are intimately linked to poverty. The New York Times stated, “The crisis is all the more harrowing for having been so concentrated in certain neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia, places that were left behind decades ago by redlining and other forms of discrimination and are now among the poorest parts of what is often called the country’s poorest big city.” When the people in Philadelphia are neglected, there is a rise in crime; when people don't have jobs, they turn to the streets.

In these communities where gun violence is prevalent, the homes are broken down, trash is piled up in the streets, homeless people are at almost every corner, the basketball courts are vacant, there aren't many green spaces, and the schools lack the resources to give children quality education. 

One plan to address these issues is to invest in the Philadelphia community and add more green space. According to a UPenn study, fixing just one home reduced the crime rate tremendously. The elected officials in Philadelphia have access to this information but do nothing or the bare minimum. It is sad because gun violence mainly happens in communities that are not desirable. It is evident that there is blatant neglect towards these communities. This demonstrated not only in the appearance of these communities but also in the rise in crime. These are the communities that have many homicides, and more than half are unsolved. After the shooting on South Street, the police found the shooters in a week. I remember losing my friend in July of 2021. The people who murdered and set up my friend were not discovered until almost the following year.

There needs to be a change. No one can say people are not speaking up because they are. We are. The problem is many people are not listening. Why aren't there SEL classes in public schools? Why aren't recreation centers given money to produce programs for the youth and stay open on the weekends? Why aren't there more trees and clean parks in neighborhoods? The reason: people in power don't care. Gun violence has become so normalized that there isn't much being done anymore.

The solution is to reallocate the funds. In Philadelphia's crime reduction budget, there is a huge amount of money going to police equipment and technology. That should be changed. What about more funding for free youth programs and activities throughout the city? The focus shouldn’t be on the police but on the people who are impacted. Children shouldn’t have to wake up and worry if they are going to be shot when they walk out the house.


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