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U.S. Senator Bob Casey on a previous visit to the AL DÍA newsroom. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey on a previous visit to the AL DÍA newsroom. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.

Senator Bob Casey hears gun violence concerns from Philly youth in sit-down at Temple

The meeting comes as the city found itself in the middle of the country’s gun control debate following a mass shooting on South Street.

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On Tuesday, May 31, hundreds of students from nine Philadelphia schools gathered outside of City Hall to protest the city’s growing gun violence crisis.

Some of the protesters recently took part in a new survey from the Enough is Enough campaign. Of the 1,300 Philly students who participated in the survey, the results found that more than 50% of youth worry about their own safety due to the rampant gun violence in the city.

Youth protesters at Tuesday’s rally told Eyewitness News that many of them have grown accustomed to hearing gunfire, but they’re tired of it being so normalized.

“It’s been happening all my life, so when I hear, I just be like, 'Oh, that’s just somebody else being killed.’ It’s really nothing new. Yeah, it’s normal,” said 11th-grade student Asanyi Clark-Bolden. 

Last week’s anti-violence rally comes a week after the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, as well as a violent Memorial Day weekend in Philly, where 15 people were killed in shootings between Friday and Monday.

But students insist that there are solutions, such as stricter gun laws, and having guns taken off the streets.

On Monday, June 6, a group of students who protested outside City Hall got to take their concerns directly to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and urge Congress to take immediate action to reduce and prevent gun violence.

The timing for the scheduled meeting couldn’t have been more opportune, as Philly experienced another mass shooting on South Street that left three people dead and a dozen with injuries. 

Casey met with members of the Enough is Enough campaign on Temple University’s campus. 

Enough is Enough (EIE) is a group led by grade-school students in partnership with the office of City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, who recently introduced a resolution to hold hearings analyzing EIE’s survey on gun violence in Philadelphia. 

The survey found that 64% of students worry about their own safety and the safety of their friends and family regarding gun violence, and 46% of respondents had a loved one who has been shot. 

36% of students said they had witnessed gun violence first hand, while 11% of them reported personal victimization. 

When asked about the cause of the crisis, the majority of students said that gang involvement and “the desire to be seen as tough or cool” were two main driving factors. 

As far as solutions go, most students (71%) agreed that better gun laws are essential, and nearly half (48%) said that more youth programming would be a proper solution. 

The senator told the students that the Senate was partly to blame for the violence, because they refuse to move forward on gun control legislation. He said it seems that the Senate is not even ready to discuss change at this point. 

“We’ve got to begin to solve the problem, even with one simple step we could even take this week in Washington by voting just to debate a bill,” Casey told the group. 

But Casey did warn the students that even a debate on a gun control bill is tough in the Senate where 10 Republican votes are needed to move legislation forward. 

High school junior Kayla Waddington said that the survey also showed that students don’t have enough creative outlets, among other things. 

“What our students think would help the problem is better gun laws and a focus on mental health in our community,” Waddington said.

Casey said that the city would have to do that type of work, but he would do his best to secure more federal funding to tackle the problem. 

He referenced a bill that he’s advocated for in the Senate which has support from Rep. Dwight Evans, who has a companion bill in the House. 

“Our bill would set up a federal council with an advisory council at the federal level where you would go if you’re a victim of gun violence, but where a member of the community you’d go to have access to anti-violence programs,” Casey said.

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