Philadelphia on Track To See Its Highest Yearly Homicide Rate, Providing a Wake-Up Call for Gun Reform

Although local officials and community-led violence programs are working to find solutions to the ongoing violence, their efforts are being hindered by a systemic issue: the availability of guns.

Demonstrators participate in the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Getty Images
Demonstrators participate in the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Getty Images

Over the last few years, cities across the United States have been experiencing a rise in gun violence, exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Thursday report by The New York Times shows, Philadelphia is one of many cities that is feeling the harrowing effects.

According to city data, Philadelphia is facing a 3% rise in its homicide rate compared to the previous year, which itself broke records. More than 1,400 people have been shot in Philadelphia this year, a number of them fatally, surpassing more-populated cities like New York City and Los Angeles. As of Thursday afternoon, Philadelphia’s homicide rate was at 338 and climbing, and the city has seen several mass shootings, including a high-profile attack in June, where shooters killed 3 people.

Although local officials and community-led violence programs are working to find solutions to the ongoing violence, their efforts are being hindered by a systemic issue: the availability of guns.

According to the NYT, the amount of legal guns purchased in Philadelphia has reportedly doubled since the pandemic began in 2020, and the number of firearm licenses has exploded with it, surging to 52,000 in 2021 from 7,400 the year before. The underground market has followed suit, with authorities finding more guns being illegally made into automatic firearms and discovering gun-trafficking rings funneling weapons into the city.

To read more about the current state of gun violence in Philadelphia, visit the NY Times.