Another kind of terror
Philadelphia Inquirer: The Boston Marathon bombings have reminded Americans that we can never let down our guard against terrorism. But Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael A. Nutter has rightly pointed out that the daily carnage from violent crime in the nation’s cities also demands attention.
Nutter wants to see violent crime, like terrorism, attacked from a national as well as a local perspective, opening the door for more federal aid for municipal police.
America hasn’t done much at the federal level to address violence since President Bill Clinton won congressional approval of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The bill was passed with support from law-and-order Republicans before Clinton was crippled by the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The legislation provided $30 billion to fight crime, including funding to help cities hire 100,000 police officers. It also banned the sale and possession of 19 kinds of assault weapons. Clinton worked hard to garner Republican votes to ban the guns, knowing that many of his fellow Democrats feared the wrath of the National Rifle Association.
Such an accomplishment would be more elusive for President Barack Obama. Even after the Newtown, Conn., shootings that left 20 first graders dead, Obama couldn’t pool the bipartisan support needed to pass a modest bill subjecting more gun purchasers to background checks.
Nutter says more cooperation on crime might be achieved through a national commission similar to the panels created to respond to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the civil rights riots, and the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which Nutter heads, has also proposed a crime commission.
Nutter noted that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks killed nearly 3,000 people, more than 100,000 have been murdered in our cities. All those murders, however, have not led to the creation of a federal agency like the post-9/11 Department of Homeland Security.
Nutter says a national crime commission could hold public hearings and coordinate efforts among federal, state, and local officials. In these days of sequestered budgets, it’s difficult to get such proposals off the ground. But a consistent national strategy for fighting violent crime would make sense.
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