PHILADELPHIA, PA. (December 14, 2021): Philadelphia City Council recently approved a resolution sponsored by Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) that authorizes hearings by City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention to examine the correlation between domestic violence and gun violence in Philadelphia.
“Domestic violence is fueling rising gun deaths among women in Philadelphia in 2021,” said Johnson, Chairman of Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention. “Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw highlighted the increase in both overall and domestic-related female-involved killings in 2021. Since instances of gun violence continue to rise, it is imperative that Philadelphia works to understand and identify trends and correlations to help create policies to interrupt cycles of abuse and to help provide resources to victims of domestic violence before they become another victim of gun violence.”
Philadelphia faces an ongoing trend of rapidly rising gun violence. As of December 13, Philadelphia has already suffered 529 homicides, mostly committed with firearms, which is a 13% increase from the same time in 2020. According to the Philadelphia Police Department, there were a total of 40 female homicide victims in 2020, however from January 1 to November 8, 2021, there have already been 60 such incidents and the number is expected to grow.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic classes, ages, genders, races, and ethnicities. Across their lifetime, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men nationwide report experiencing severe physical violence from an intimate partner and nearly 2 in 5 transgender people nationwide report having experienced intimate partner violence.
When guns are involved in domestic violence situations, it can exacerbate harm and even be fatal for victims, perpetrators, and bystanders. Studies have found that in domestic violence situations, the risk of death is five times greater when a gun is present. According to an analysis of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Supplemental Homicide Reports by Everytown For Gun Safety, 56 percent of women murdered by an intimate partner from 2010 to 2019 were killed with a firearm.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these instances of domestic violence. During the pandemic, there was a reported increase in incidents of domestic violence throughout the country due to stay-at-home orders, which provide fewer options for individuals housed with their abusers. During the COVID-19 pandemic gun homicides involving intimate partners rose 25% nationally in 2020 compared with the previous year. Women accounted for more than two-thirds of the victims shot and killed by intimate partners last year in the United States.
City Council approved Resolution No. 211007 during the Thursday, December 9, 2021 Council session. Johnson is the lead sponsor of the resolution but it is also co-sponsored by Councilmembers Kendra Brooks, Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker, Jamie Gauthier, Bobby Henon, Allan Domb, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Curtis Jones, Jr., Derek Green, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Isaiah Thomas, and Council President Darrell Clarke.
The date and time of the hearing would have to be determined by City Council but is expected to be held sometime in early 2022.
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Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, a former Pennsylvania State Representative, represents the Second Council District which includes parts of Center City, South Philadelphia, and Southwest Philadelphia. He is also chairman of City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention.