Philadelphia is starting a “gun court” because of the approach’s success elsewhere, says the Philadelpia Inquirer. District Attorney Lynne Abraham said that because the new court will focus on people whose most serious crime is illegally carrying a gun, it will help prevent people from using a gun to injure or kill. Her comments came shortly before a shooting near a North Philadelphia high school left a teenager with a head wound. Police have reported four homicides so far this year; all involved firearms. There were 328 homicides in Philadelphia last year, with 8 in 10 involving guns.
Gun courts in the New York borough of Brooklyn and in Rhode Island have resulted in felony convictions, putting gun-wielding defendants in jail. Sue-Ellen Bienenfeld, bureau chief of Brooklyn Gun Court, said the court there opened in May 2003. The court has handled 520 cases, with 270 resulting in felony pleas. Of those 270 cases, 93 percent have resulted in a year or more in jail, a 251 percent increase in incarcerations for gun crimes. She said that since the court was created, violent crime in New York has declined by 6 percent. Mayor Michael Bloomberg credited the Brooklyn gun court for some of the drop.