As of Nov. 7, 2022, there have been more than 2,000 gunshot victims in Philadelphia, roughly 420 of whom were killed, according to the Philadelphia Office of the Controller’s gun violence dashboard.
Gun control and public safety are key issues to the midterm elections on Nov. 8. Both Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman (D) and television-doctor Mehmet Oz (R) are running for the open Pennsylvania United States Senate seat with differing perspectives on gun control and public safety.
Gun reform would make going out in North Philadelphia a lot safer and improve the sense of security in the community, said Ashlei Arthurton, a junior biology major.
“It would definitely make me and probably others feel safer about going out especially, if it’s late at night, or if someone has a late-night class,” Arthurton said. “It would be a feeling of security.”
Here’s what each candidate’s proposals could mean for the future of Pennsylvania’s public safety laws.
John Fetterman (D)
Fetterman has been chairman of the Board of Pardons since 2019, the board has recommended more inmates for clemency and release than in past years, according to the BOP.
People who didn’t commit murder and had clean records while in prison should be released, Fetterman argued.
One of Fetterman’s campaign goals is to eliminate mandatory life sentences for people convicted of second-degree murder. Pennsylvania is one of eight states that has a mandatory life sentence without parole for second-degree murder convictions.
“In the long run we need to make sure that guns are not everywhere, and that people
use guns safely, and you know that’s really at the end of the day,” said Jason Gravel, a criminal justice professor. “In the short term these guns are out there, and if we’re not going to remove them, they’re not going to go away.”
In May, Fetterman tweeted that Democrats must unite to end the filibuster and pass common sense gun control laws, prohibiting the possession of firearms that are undetectable by airport-level detection and background checking every gun sale or transfer.
“There definitely needs to be more control in certain areas,” said Natalie Knox, a sophomore English major from Pequea, Pennsylvania. “I’m from a very redneck place, so I definitely feel that my area could use better reform.”
Mehmet Oz (R)
If elected, Oz will work to protect gun rights, according to Oz’s campaign website.
Oz opposes anti-gun measures like red flag laws, which permit police to petition a court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person they believe is dangerous. Oz opposes other gun control laws like gun buybacks, a program where the government would purchase privately-owned firearms to reduce the number of guns sold illegally.
He believes the legalization of drugs increases gun violence, and mental health issues are exacerbating gun violence. Oz believes that Congress should allocate a large amount of public funding to support school vouchers to keep more students engaged.
“What I’m seeing all over Pennsylvania is kids who weren’t in school for a year or two floundering, losing their grounding and then becoming willing to play with guns and use guns in ways that none of us would have ever accepted,” Oz said at the Safer Streets Forum at the New Birth Baptist Church in Pittsburgh on Sept. 30.
Oz supports community policing, a system in which police and the local community work together to combat crime. Oz believes communities should trust their local police officers and should be familiar to the community, according to Oz’s Plan to Fight for Black Communities.