Thursday, November 07, 2019

The Second Amendment Strikes Again... And Again.... And

This is not working.

A year ago, the ACLU of Pennsylvania explained

Bailey v. Philadelphia is a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in 2010 alleging that the Philadelphia police had a practice of stopping and frisking pedestrians without reasonable suspicion that the person was involved in criminal activity and of disproportionately stopping African-Americans and Latinos.

The consent degree which ensued in 2011 requires that stops be made only when there is reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct, that frisks only occur where the officer has reasonable suspicion that the suspect is armed and dangerous, and that these police interventions not be based on the suspect’s race or ethnicity.

Statistics demonstrated that blacks were stopped at a rate disproportionate to their numbers in a particular neighborhood.  This was unacceptable. However, in a not entirely unrelated matter 

A 10-year-old boy was hit in the head by a stray bullet during a drive-by shooting in Philadelphia on Wednesday, just hours after the city’s mayor announced new plans to combat gun violence.

Semaj O’Branty, on his way home from school, had been waiting to meet his mother outside a corner store in the city’s northeastern neighborhood of Frankford when gunshots rang out, CBS Philly reported.

Violent crime is not uncommon inPhiladelphia. Still, the conscience was shocked when

Last month, two infants in Philadelphia were struck by stray bullets in separate incidents. Nikolette Rivera, 2, was killed on Oct. 20 when someone fired an automatic rifle into her family’s home. A day earlier, 11-month-old Yazeem Jenkins was shot four times while in the back seat of a car. He remained hospitalized and fighting for his life as of Monday.

Mayor Jim Kenney understands “We can continue to educate, to invest in education, to invest in prevention, to invest in police, to invest in all the things we invest in, but as long as the legislature and the U.S. Congress allow these guns in our society, we’re swimming upstream."

But there is something additional that can be done by Philadelphia and other cities plagued by violent crime, particularly those in states such as Pennsylvania which idolize guns.

That would be a constitutionally applied stop-and-frisk policy.  Given the requirements of due process mandated by the 14th Amendment, members of no one ethnic group can be differentially searched in numbers statistically significant from individuals of another group.

When a federal district court judge shot down New York City's stop and frisk policy in 2013, she wisely did so on the basis of the !4th Amendment, as well as- unwisely- on the basis of the 5th Amendment.   However, in the last six years this nation, especially in poor, minority communities, has continued to be beset by violence from firearms obtained in jurisdictions with particularly loose restrictions.

Though a greater investment in education, housing, and other social services would diminish the problem in the long run, preventive measures such as gun safety legislation and effective policing would have a more immediate effect.

An effective program of stop-and-frisk would not- as it has too often- include arrests for drug prevention. It must be focused entirely on the possession of illegal weapons and be conducted within a constitutional framework. It won't happen, of course; the left is enamored of criminal justice reform and the right of guns. But that doesn't mean that it shouldn't.

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