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Could piecemeal gun control measures have stopped North Philly gunman?

It’s not clear how many weapons 36-year-old gunman Maurice Hill had — or where he got them — when he fired hundreds of rounds Thursday night, injuring at least six police officers in Philadelphia’s Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood.

What is clear is that his extensive criminal history should have prevented Hill from owning a gun.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross confirmed Thursday that Hill likely used an AR-15 assault rifle. He also had a handgun, which was in his pocket when he surrendered to police late Wednesday night after a seven-hour standoff.  Beyond that, Ross said, officers will have to wait until they gain access to the building where the incident occurred. As of Thursday afternoon, they had not gotten in, he said, because the tear gas police deployed the night before had not yet dissipated.

Dating back to 2001, when he turned 18, Hill’s criminal record includes dozens of charges ranging from narcotics possession, to kidnapping and attempted murder. He was convicted of felonies for aggravated assault and perjury.

In 2002, Hill pleaded guilty to four firearms violations, including carrying a firearm without a license, in a public place, and without a serial number, and was sentenced to a minimum of nine and a maximum of 18 months in prison, plus two years’ probation. He was charged over the years with at least 20 other firearms violations, which were either adjudicated or not pursued by the District Attorney’s Office.

A profile like this is not uncommon. According to the FBI, of the more than 530 people who killed police officers between 2009 and 2018, 40% had been arrested for weapons offenses.

Local and state officials have put forward a range of initiatives in recent months designed to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t be allowed to have them. In June, Mayor Jim Kenney announced that 47 different neighborhood groups would receive a total of $700,000 from the city’s Office of Violence Prevention to combat community violence. [Read More]

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