Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has forged ahead with a plan to hold law abiding citizens responsible for crimes committed by those who do not abide by the law. Under Philadelphia’s new gun law, one which the Philadelphia DA says is not constitutional. No matter, though, the city plans to forge ahead anyway. The fine will be $1,900 for not reporting the lost gun within 30 days of knowing that it is lost. You can find the article here.
Besides the obvious problem of punishing private, innocent citizens for the actions of others (i.e. most guns that are “lost” are actually stolen), this comes on the heels of the Heller decision which upholds the rights on an individual’s right to bear arms. Mayor Nutter has been briefed by the DA that this law, as well as others that Philadelphia is seeking to institute, are in violation of the Constitution. Additionally, this also poses an issue in determining when a gun is lost. If one does not report the gun lost within 30 days of knowing it is lost, how exactly does the city go about proving that the owner knew for more than 30 days that the gun was lost at all? There is no way of proving that time frame except for the word of the owner in the first place. So in addition to being a violation of the Second Amendment, the law is going to enforced arbitrarily and result in an excess fine.
Additionally, one must also consider the fact that if a gun is stolen during a break in; one must reasonably assume that the gun was secondary in the theft. Identity theft is a complete nightmare, unfortunately a reality for many, and is a difficult problem in which to find a resolution. It should not be a punishable offense if the victim of break-in were to focus on securing their financial accounts, credit, social security number, etc, and place the emphasis on those issues rather than focusing on material items, which of course, can be replaced through private insurance. Dealing with crimes of this nature is extremely traumatic and takes considerable time. To further exacerbate the after effects of being the victim of crime through unconstitutional laws is wholly irresponsible and reckless.
There is no disputing that Philadelphia has many problems and that violent crime has been on the rise. The failings of former Mayor John Street are just a part of the root cause of this increase in violence. The criminals are the problem in Philadelphia and rather than combating the criminal element, the city is seeking to scapegoat law abiding citizens and blame the people and the not the failings of the politicians who run the city for the woes that they face. Rather than going after citizens who are not breaking the law for exercising their Constitutional rights to bear arms, they ought to look in the mirror and begin to enact and enforce laws that will confront the criminal element directly.