More than 100 murders this year in Philadelphia, 80 percent involving handguns. More than 400 shootings, an average of five a day. A 40 percent increase in homicides since 2002. Almost 85 percent of shooters and victims have criminal records. More than $100 million in hospital charges for assault-related medical care. Not enough jobs or social services, and way too many guns. For three hours yesterday, says the Philadelphia Inquirer, police, hospital administrators, criminologists, and emergency room surgeons tried to convey to a panel of 10 state legislators the effect that gun violence has on Philadelphia.
Anne-Marie Podgorski, a hospital trauma room manager, said, “We fear being shot as we walk from our cars. We fear that somebody will come into our trauma bay to finish off a patient we’re trying to save.” Patrick Carr, a sociologist at St. Joseph University’s Institution for Violence Research and Prevention, said Chicago had dramatically reduced its homicide rate and shootings with community policing and beat cops. Philadelphia “tried this before and it was very effective,” he said, referring to a practice that began in the late 1980s. “But it requires a sustained commitment. You have to be willing to be in this for the long haul.”