On a day when Philadelphia’s spiraling gun violence claimed the lives of a teenager and two men in their 20s, State Attorney General Thomas Corbett and State Sen. Vincent Fumo announced a new task force they said would work to curb the sale and possession of illegal firearms in the city, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. A $5 million state appropriation will be used “to create an enforcement unit whose sole responsibility is the prevention of illegal guns’ getting into the wrong hands,” Fumo said. He said plans might include the infiltration of gun-trafficking rings. “I want illegal gun dealers to be scared to death that the next guy they sell a gun to might be an undercover cop,” he said.
Tracing illegal guns to their sources and assuring harsh sentences for offenders should be primary objectives of the effort, said District Attorney Lynne Abraham. “A weak link in our chain of enforcement is the judiciary,” Abraham said. “Too many judges are sentencing too many defendants to city time when they should be in a state prison.” Illegal handguns were used in the majority of last year’s 380 homicides and 1,700 shootings, Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said. It’s the same story this year, with a total of 194 killings to date, compared with 185 last year.