On May 27th, 27-year-old David Terrell Nightengale became the 10th this year to be murdered in the city of Harrisburg. Though gun-related homicides have dropped in the past two decades, the city is on track to have a record-setting year. The shooting on Monday occurred only a mile from the state Capitol, where gun violence prevention bills remain stalled due to the feared backlash of bringing such controversial proposals to vote. Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, notes that the stalemate is frustrating for those who wish to see changes in their communities. “Obviously, we don’t want to see bills we oppose being passed,” said Goodman, “but we do want to see votes.”
As immediate legislative action seems unlikely, city officials have taken it upon themselves to defend their streets. Bolstering the police force has shown to be an effective solution toward lowering crime rates, supported by criminologist David Kennedy, “who noted that direct engagement by law enforcement, community figures and social service workers with troubled youth had yielded results. In Boston, this approach cut youth homicide by two-thirds and all homicide by half. In Chicago, a version targeting parolees with violent records cut homicide rates by nearly 40 percent.” While this is quickly becoming a popular response to urban crime, Harrisburg’s economy is floundering, and might be unable to support the increased police presence.
Still, it appears that Harrisburg is committed to lowering gun violence at any cost. Criminologist Kennedy says that focusing on “hot” areas with high crime rates yields results, without inciting the culture war on guns.