kyw: US Rep. Evans urges federal aid, city action for Philly gun violence crisis in letters

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More than 1,200 people have been shot in Philadelphia so far in 2021. Over 300 of them have died.

Amid record levels of violence, an area congressman is pleading with Mayor Jim Kenney and President Joe Biden to take immediate action to stop the gun violence plaguing Philadelphia.

In a letter to President Biden, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans of the 3rd Congressional District said, in his four decades of serving local neighborhoods, he has yet to witness a challenge more devastating than the current gun violence epidemic.

“We are well on our way to exceeding what we once thought to be the amongst the darkest years, in the 1990s and mid-2000s, of Philadelphia’s long-running violence,” wrote Evans.

Days ago, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will step up enforcement in five cities where it’s easy to procure firearms. While New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington made the list, Philadelphia did not.

In his letter, Evans said he believes our city should be added to the list.

“Innocent children are being killed, men and women are scared to walk outside their homes, and amenities such as playgrounds and recreation centers have turned into shooting galleries,” he wrote. “It is essential that we use all federal tools available to combat the gun violence epidemic.”

He also penned a letter to Kenney asking what obstacles prevent the mayor from declaring a gun violence emergency.

Other community leaders, including Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier and Helen Gym, have also demanded action from Kenney.

Kenney has said that there is no greater priority for his administration than reducing the violence and saving lives, though in his letter, Evans asked when funds the mayor promised to violence prevention strategies will be distributed.