Since the crowded race for Philadelphia mayor kicked off last year, one issue has dominated the contest, among both candidates and constituents: the city’s gun violence crisis. The conversation during the first and only televised debate for the May 16 Democratic primary — the outcome of which, in solidly blue Philly, essentially determines who ends up with the city’s top job — was no exception.
Seven candidates participated in the “spicy” debate on April 11, which was hosted at Temple University and featured questions from students concerned about violent crime near their campus. The mayoral hopefuls fielded questions on the use of stop-and-frisk, police funding and staffing, and the measures they believe would most effectively curb shootings. Per The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Opinion Desk, three candidates came out on top: Former state Representative Cherelle Parker, former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, and former City Councilmember Allan Domb.
Parker, like Paul Vallas in Chicago, is running a classic “tough-on-crime” campaign — and, like Vallas, called for the return of beat policing and prioritizing law enforcement to address violent crime; she also said she’s in favor of “constitutional” stop-and-frisk. Rhynhart, on the other hand, offered a more holistic approach akin to the city’s program for Group Violence Intervention, promising to implement interruption initiatives on Day One and imposing harsher penalties for participants who go on to commit crime. Domb opted to direct the audience to view his 10-point community safety plan, which includes increasing funding for police recruitment and declaring a crime emergency.
The other candidates in the debate included former City Councilmember Helen Gym; embattled businessman Jeff Brown; former City Councilmember Derek Green; and state Representative Amen Brown. Read more about the debate from the Inquirer.
What to Know Today
Justin Jones, the Tennessee House member who was reinstated this week after Republicans expelled him for participating in a gun violence protest, says all of his upcoming legislation will be centered on firearm reform. Memphis-area officials reappointed Justin J. Pearson, the other expelled lawmaker, to his position in the House on Wednesday. [CNN/NBC News]
The political fallout from the massacre at the Covenant School in Nashville revealed why Republicans want to make it harder for young people to vote. [The New Yorker]
Kentucky law requires police to sell confiscated guns at auction. That means the Louisville shooter’s legally purchased assault-style rifle “will be back on the streets one day,” according to Mayor Craig Greenberg. [The Guardian]
A nonprofit in Washington, D.C., thinks violence interruption programs rely too heavily on understaffed, under-resourced government services, and should instead turn to philanthropy to back community-based efforts. Could it work? [DCist]
Young people in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are increasingly being arrested for and becoming victims of violent crime. For Monique Jones, who’s still grieving the shooting death of 13-year-old son, the blame lies with a decline in the city’s after-school programs, and barriers to accessing existing ones. [The Advocate]
A Nashville TV station owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group — “the most dangerous company most people have never heard of,” according to a former FCC chair — parroted right-wing talking points and used extremist rhetoric in its coverage of the Covenant School shooting, claiming the attack was a hate crime against Christians and pushing disproven proposals to address America’s gun violence. [Media Matters]
The trauma of gun violence isn’t isolated to an initial incident, as Columbine survivor Austin Eubanks well knew. Eubanks undertook a mission to make Americans aware of the links between violence, trauma, and addiction — and how mass shootings could damage communities for generations to come. [The Guardian]
For some Texans, shooting a machine gun is “better than therapy.” It’s also cheaper: Some gun ranges offer rentals of the weapons for about the price of dinner. [Texas Monthly]
More than 349,000 — the number of American students who have experienced gun violence at schools since Columbine. [The Washington Post]
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly used present tense to refer to Austin Eubanks. We apologize for the error.