Philadelphia tallied nearly 500 homicides last year, and right now the city’s on pace for even more deaths, with 152 murders reported as of last Friday. That’s a 32% increase compared to the same time period in 2020, and politicians as well as community activists are coming up with all kinds of ideas to try to reduce the number of shootings. Everything seems to be on the table with the exception of actually focusing on the city’s most violent offenders.
With what needs to be done off the table, some of the ideas that are being floated are getting a little crazy; including a call to action by community groups in Philadelphia who say it’s time that the state start keeping track of all ammunition purchases.
Lawrence Clark, a main organizer of the Zero Now Network coalition, says a tracking system for ammunition could help law enforcement solve gun violence crimes as homicides and shootings surge in Philadelphia.
The group’s “Track the Bullet” proposal would require all bullets sold in the state to be traceable to buyers, said Clark, owner of Cord Manufacturing Group. He hopes to make the tracking system national.
“This would tie the buyer of the ammunition as the point of origin,” Clark said while flanked by more than a dozen community activists and other members of the Zero Now Network at the Octavius Catto statue outside City Hall on Tuesday.
The group said it intends to propose legislation to the Philadelphia delegation of state lawmakers in the coming weeks.
And how would this work, exactly? After all, bullets don’t come with serial numbers, and requiring ammunition to be sold with unique identifying markers that would precisely match the box of ammo they were sold in would be an engineering feat of epic proportions.
The idea of bullet serialization is nothing new, at least in theory, but no gun control supporter has ever been able to build a working system on the scale of commercial ammunition production. It’s one of those goofy ideas that sounds good to folks who don’t know much about how bullets are actually made, but even if the technology was feasible, criminals would easily find a workaround.
First, they could simply steal ammunition, along with firearms. They could send runners out of state to purchase unserialized ammunition, and they could even make their own. Of course, I’m sure that the anti-gun activists who want to track every bullet sold in the state would also try to impose a ban on reloading, and the criminals would ignore that law as well.
It’s bizarre to me that, instead of calling on police to target the most violent offenders in Philadelphia, these activists are demanding a host of new, non-violent possessory offenses that they want police to enforce instead. I understand the desire to do something to address the out-of-control crime rates in Philadelphia, but I’ll never be able to wrap my head around the idea of imposing new legal requirements on responsible gun owners as a way of fighting violent criminals.
I doubt this idea is going anywhere in the Republican-controlled state legislature, but I hope that some gun owners and 2A activists in the state will reach out to the folks at the Zero Now Network to explain the flaws in their proposal. I have no doubt that their heart is in the right place, but their mindset needs some work if they truly are hoping to make Philly a safer place.
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