NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

"Cease Fire" Working In Philadelphia

April 18, 2000

Richmond, Virginia's three-year-old "Project Exile" has been widely credited with helping cut that city's murder rate almost in half. A similar program in Philadelphia, called "Cease Fire," is showing results after 15 months, say observers.

Under these programs, local prosecutors are transferring gun crime cases to the U.S. Attorney's office for prosecution in the less-crowded federal courts under federal laws -- which impose heavier sentences, with no probation or parole.

Since January 1999, the federally funded Operation Cease Fire program has hauled more than 300 of Philadelphia's most egregious gun offenders off the streets and into federal court.

  • In 1999 alone, gun possession indictments by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia more than quintupled from 1998.
  • Out of 173 gun cases disposed of, only one defendant was acquitted, while 149 others simply pleaded guilty and went straight to federal prison.
  • Philadelphia's rates of shootings and killings have been dropping steadily since Cease Fire's launch 15 months ago.

Both the Richmond and Philadelphia programs are projects of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and, comments writer Noel Weyrich, "....[W]ith Exile and Cease Fire, it is quite possible that the NRA has already helped prevent more gun violence in Richmond and Philadelphia than any gun-control law ever has."

That's because there is little evidence gun control laws work. For instance, Maryland passed a one-gun-a-month law in 1995; yet the state's largest city, Baltimore, still has a murder rate almost twice as high as Philadelphia's. Similarly, studies of Virginia's one-gun-a-month statute, passed in 1993, showed that urban gun crime was unaffected. In fact, the homicide rate in Richmond rocketed to its highest level ever one year after it passed.

Source: Noel Weyrich, "What if the Gun Nuts are Right?", April 6-13, 2000.


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