Philadelphia’s streets are saturated with illegal guns that mostly teenagers and young men buy – or rent – easier and faster than a $10 bag of marijuana, says the Philadelphia Daily News. “You have a glut of guns that are out there and they fall into the hands of criminals,” said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. “People are buying them on the street and they pass through many hands. So there’s no guarantee when a gun is used in multiple shootings that it’s even fired by the same person.”
In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced 4,157 guns that were recovered in Philadelphia. Almost 200 fewer weapons were confiscated in New York City, even though it has about 6.7 million more people. “Everybody out there who’s involved [in crime] knows where to get a gun,” said Donald Robinson, assistant special agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia division, “whether it’s [acquired in] burglaries or thefts or just buying off of someone you know.” About 86 percent of the city’s 331 homicides in 2012 were by gun, as opposed to 56 percent of the 419 killings in New York City. In Philadelphia, illegal guns are so plentiful that it takes less than half an hour for teens or young men to buy or borrow one. Once it’s been used in a shooting, it is considered “hot” and is passed on to someone else. Carrying an illegal gun is not considered a serious crime under state law. It’s a misdemeanor. There is no mandatory-minimum sentence.