A weekend of gunfire that killed four Philadelphia men pushed the city’s 2006 homicide tally beyond last year’s total, reports the Philadelpia Inquirer. The city has had 384 homicide victims, four more than in all of 2005. Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said, but noted, “If you look at the trend nationally, it’s going up everywhere.” Johnson said the federal government should shift some of its resources from homeland security to “hometown security” and the state needs tougher gun-control laws. This year’s homicide total is the highest since 418 were recorded in 1997.
Anticrime activists and officials blame the homicide numbers not just on the lack of adequate gun-control laws, but also on the sense of desperation felt by impoverished young African American men, who are responsible for the majority of the shootings and make up the majority of the victims. Johnson said is starting a gang-control unit of about 14 plainclothes detectives who will work to curb gang activity. Lawrence W. Sherman, director of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, said a better solution would be a “stop and frisk” policy to keep people from carrying guns in public places. “The evidence suggests that ‘stop and frisk’ is the strategy to which homicide rates respond most immediately,” Sherman said.