AS GUN TASK FORCE GETS RESULTS, $5
MILLION IN STATE FUNDS RENEWED
PHILADELPHIA, August 16, 2007 – A $5 million line item for a Philadelphia
illegal gun task force appears in the Pennsylvania budget for a second
consecutive year, state Sen. Vince Fumo said today.
The appropriation was renewed under the Office of the
Attorney General when the 2007-08 state budget was enacted last month. In the
previous fiscal year, Fumo obtained the original $5 million of state funding to
create a task force dedicated solely to attacking illegal guns in the
Fumo joined Attorney General Tom Corbett, Philadelphia
District Attorney Lynne Abraham, and Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson at a
news conference today to announce the issuance of new arrest warrants based upon
efforts of the task force.
“I believe that over the long haul, one of our most
effective strategies against gun violence is keep weapons out of the hands of
criminals, and prosecute the dealers who supply them illegally,” said Fumo. “I
commend General Corbett, District Attorney Abraham, and the Police Department
for the work they have done so far. We are off to a good start.”
Over the past year, Corbett, Abraham and the Police
Department, used the initial round of state funding to establish the task force
and gradually expand it throughout the city. It will begin working in the sixth
and final police division this month.
Since starting street operations in December, the task
force has made 43 arrests, not counting the additional warrants announced today.
The majority have involved straw purchases, along with several burglaries and
resales of stolen guns.
“This program is just getting off the ground, but it is
already producing results. We need to keep up the pressure on the illegal
dealers who are fueling our city’s murder rate. I want them to get the message –
the police are not just going after the killers, but they are also going after
the people who are giving the killers their tools,” Fumo said.
Philadelphia has seen an escalating murder rate in the
past several years – one reason Fumo was able to persuade the legislature to
create a police/prosecution unit to concentrate exclusively on illegal guns in
Given the historical difficulty of enacting gun control
measures in the Pennsylvania legislature, Fumo has focused on targeted
law-enforcement efforts as the most effective way to attack gun crime. Besides
this recent funding plan, he was the main author of the 1995 revision to
Pennsylvania’s gun statutes, establishing the state’s instant criminal
background check system. That law subjects all gun transactions, including
private sales between individuals, to state police approval. It thus gives law
enforcement authorities another means of pursuing arrest and prosecution when
dealers and purchasers evade the required background check procedures.
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