Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is a terrible prosecutor, but he’s damned good at deflection. In the wake of the shooting of two Philadelphia police officers who disrupted a car burglary at Philadelphia International Airport late Thursday night, Krasner chose to blame the NRA, not the trigger pullers, in his first public comments.
Although “multiple agencies” are working to identify a suspect, they are working “without the ability to quickly match ballistics on scene to a firearm that can be traced via database to point of regulated sale and owner,” Krasner said, “all because gun-crazy politicians serve the NRA’s bloody agenda instead of serving and protecting the public.”
Krasner said that’s due to the proliferation of firearms and a failure to regulate them. In Pennsylvania, where Republicans have opposed new gun regulations as violations of the state and federal constitutions, state law makes it illegal for a government agency “to create, maintain or operate any registry of firearm ownership.”
“America has more guns than people, thanks to the same gun-crazy politicians who oppose commonsense gun regulations,” Krasner said.
Is Krasner really so imbecilic that he thinks the car burglars who opened fire on cops did so with a lawfully purchased firearm; one that police could link back to the suspects if only the state had a gun registration law in place? Of course not. He’s just counting on the ignorance of his constituents to help him get away with scapegoating the NRA and “gun-crazy politicians” in order to deflect from the impact that his own policies have had on public safety.
An analysis of Krasner’s policies by the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund shows that cases of illegal gun possession by criminals are often dismissed or have charges withdrawn. In many other cases, the defendants are sentenced to minimal prison time but then released on probation.
“Krasner is failing miserably at prosecuting felony offenses,” according to the analysis. “Compared to his predecessor’s average conviction rates, Krasner dropped or lost 26 percent more of all felony cases. More robbery cases (+14 percent) and auto theft cases (+37 percent) were dropped or lost. In drug sales (not possession) cases, Krasner dismisses or loses 55 percent of cases compared to the 34 percent rate of his predecessor — a 65 percent increase.”
The LELDF analysis went on to add that in his first two years, Krasner dropped or lost 47 percent of all illegal firearms cases, a 42 percent higher rate than the last DA, Seth Williams, while getting convictions in 21 percent fewer cases.
Krasner has said that he doesn’t believe “arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings,” which some gun owners and Second Amendment advocates may actually agree with. The problem is that Krasner isn’t just avoiding prosecutions for non-violent, possessory charges like carrying a gun without a license. As the LELDF report found, violent felony cases aren’t leading to nearly as many convictions as the city saw under his predecessor either. Even if you believe that carrying a gun without a government-issued permission slip shouldn’t be a crime (as I do), even the staunchest of Second Amendment stalwarts don’t have a problem with arresting and prosecuting people when they commit crimes of violence.
Chances are that when arrests are made in the murder and attempted murder of these Philadelphia police officers, we’re going to learn that this wasn’t their first run-in with the law. My guess is that Krasner is terrified that the suspects are going to have had multiple arrests, but few if any convictions to their name, and he and his office are once again going to be rightfully called out for failing to get tough on violent offenders. At least, I’d be worried about that if I were in Krasner’s position. The people responsible for this shooting are the ones who actually pulled the trigger, but if Krasner wants to lay the blame at the feet of politicians, he should start with himself instead of the “gun-crazy” ones who are the subject of his preemptive finger-pointing.