Nearly 3,000 firearms seized from Philly streets as gun violence continues to surge

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With the continued surge of violence in Philadelphia — about 300 homicides and 1,300 shootings so far this year — city officials point to easy access to guns as the main cause. Now they're pressing federal authorities to learn how shooters are getting guns so easily, while cops take more firearms off the street.

So far this year, law enforcement has taken nearly 3,000 guns off city streets — through arrests, search warrants, or turned-in weapons.

The number is on pace with last year's number of more than 4,200 firearms, but homicides and shootings continue to climb.

"I am frustrated, aggravated, angry and want to see this end, but our police are doing whatever they can to get these guns off the street," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

During a press briefing last week, Kenney said nearly every gun taken off the street is quickly being replaced.

"We can't control guns in our own city," he said. "We can't put laws into effect because the state won't let us."

His office, and police, are still trying to implement the Group Violence Intervention program — or focused deterrence, by another name — which involves one-on-one interaction with potential shooters, but the pandemic has made it more difficult.

Kenney also said police are actively monitoring social media, as authorities cite online feuds as a top reason for shootings these year.

"We will accept anonymous tips from anybody who can tell us about a shooter or an incident that may be coming up," he declared.

City Council sent a letter to the feds pressing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about weapons they've seized, including how many guns were 3-D printed, and where the firearms are coming from. 

Council has also held two hearings on gun violence. Another hearing is set for September 3.