(Tom Gantert, The Center Square) Government officials across the country are looking at gun violence state of emergencies as a way to address crime within their cities.
In Philadelphia, candidates for mayor held a debate Jan. 19 focused solely on gun violence.
“On my very first day, I am enacting a state of emergency on gun violence,” Helen Gym, a Democratic mayoral candidate, said during the debate recorded by WPVI.
Declaring a state of emergency grants additional powers to government and also makes them eligible for more government financial assistance, according to the executive orders put into place in numerous cities.
New York became the first state to declare an emergency due to gun violence in July 2021. It has extended that emergency until Feb. 15.
Rochester, N.Y., originally declared a gun violence state of emergency in July 2021 and extended its emergency for 30 days on Jan. 17.
In Rochester, the emergency order allows the police to shut down businesses that are determined to be nuisances. In December, the city filed a lawsuit against the firearm industry “for their role in fueling the gun violence crisis” in Rochester, according to a news release.
The city of Flint, Michigan, declared a gun violence state of emergency in July 2021. The city said that emergency is still in place.
The city of Portland, Oregon, implemented a gun violence state of emergency in July 2021. The mayor’s office confirmed that emergency has been extended through February.
The city of Blakely, Georgia, declared a local emergency due to gun violence in July 2022. The city stated the order was no longer in effect. While the emergency was in effect, the city was able to implement a midnight curfew and cease the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m.
And there have been calls by activists for their government to follow suit and implement gun violence emergencies.
The Oaklandside reported in June 2021 that activists chanted “state of emergency!” in an attempt to get Alameda County in California to declare a gun violence state of emergency.
In October 2022, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla of California wrote a letter asking U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to declare a national emergency due to gun violence.
“Gun violence is currently the leading cause of premature death in the United States,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, according to a news release. “The Public Health Emergency Declaration on Gun Violence will fundamentally reframe how people perceive gun violence prevention efforts and recommit this nation to ending gun violence. When faced with a national public health crisis, the federal government marshals its resources to protect Americans, and gun violence should not be an exception.”
The National Rifle Association said emergency orders aren’t the solution to the problems of shootings in cities like Philadelphia.
“There’s no gun violence or gun crimes without violent criminals,” Lars Dalseide, spokesman for the NRA, said in an email to The Center Square. “Arresting, prosecuting and punishing violent criminals who commit these heinous crimes is the solitary thing that will address this sad epidemic of violence in Philadelphia.”
Everytown For Gun Safety did not respond to an email seeking comment.