Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Sunday attempted to place blame on NRA gun lobbyists as the manhunt continues for suspects in a mass shooting that left at least three people dead and 11 others wounded when a barrage of bullets was unleashed in a popular downtown entertainment district.
"The terrible crimes last night on South Street tell our Pennsylvania legislators it’s time for real action," Krasner, a progressive Democrat elected in 2017, tweeted. "Boycott NRA lobbyists, boycott NRA donations, and bring real common sense gun regulation to Pennsylvania. Now."
The remarks come as Philadelphia is on pace to break last year’s record number of homicides.
Joe Sullivan, the former deputy commissioner of patrol at the Philadelphia Police Department, quickly criticized Krasner for not mentioning anything about more aggressive and focused prosecutions of gun related crimes, especially for repeat violent offenders and convicted felons, while the district attorney instead attacked an advocacy group such as the NRA for legal gun ownership.
"I was very disappointed there wasn’t one mention of starting to refocus and strategically target persons that are carrying guns illegally, especially previously convicted felons and persons on probation or parole, as that should be the backbone of any anti-violence program in Philadelphia," Sullivan told Fox New Digital by phone Sunday. "But since he’s taken office, we’ve seen a significant reduction in prosecutions in general and for persons carrying guns illegally. I think that’s counterproductive for a time when the city of Philadelphia is setting records for gun-related homicides and shootings."
Reached by Fox News Digital, NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter had a strong reaction to Krasner's tweet, arguing the district attorney "blaming the NRA, which advocates for its 5 million law-abiding members to be able defend themselves and their families, is a feeble cop out and a disgrace."
"Philadelphia has been awash in crime for years as a result of Krasner’s ineptitude and loyalty to his benefactor, George Soros, who supports weak DAs who pledge not to prosecute violent criminals and release them almost immediately as law enforcement arrests these violent felons," Hunter said. "This crime wave is on Larry Krasner, Joe Biden and their benefactors - no one else."
Sullivan pointed to Krasner having spoken out in the past against Pennsylvania’s violation of the Uninformed Firearm Act, which includes special enhancements when someone is a previously convicted felon.
The district attorney has argued the law is unfair to defendants of color, often plea bargains cases down to probation and rarely, if ever, recommends the probation be reported to probation officers, Sullivan said, adding that probation officers in Philadelphia are carrying the lowest caseloads in recent years.
"Probation and parole are a large part of the criminal justice program and should be a significant partner in any gun violence reduction strategy," Sullivan said.
Meanwhile, applications to legally carry a firearm in Philadelphia have increased from 7,444 applications in 2020 to at least 52,230 people so far this year, according to Sullivan, something he says indicates that people are losing confidence in the criminal justice system to ensure public safety.
"Applications for permits to carry in Philadelphia in the last year has skyrocketed astronomically," Sullivan said. "In my mind, that is an indication that people feel unsafe, and they lack confidence that the criminal justice system will protect them, and they feel the need to protect themselves."
Fox News Digital also reached out to the NRA for comment but did not immediately hear back.
"In any city, including Philadelphia, there is a very small number of violent individuals responsible for a significant percentage of gun violence, and that’s what we need to focus our energy on," Sullivan said.
"As a lifelong Philadelphian, I think last night should really send a message that we have to focus on that small group of individuals, and we have to be very deliberate in our response, and we have to make the police officers of Philadelphia feel confident that if they’re doing their job, they don’t have to fear that they will be scrutinized or treated unfairly for doing their job," he said. "They need to know they have the backing of the mayor, police commissioner and district attorney."
Sullivan said city officials should also focus on "sending a strong message that if you are caught carrying a gun illegally in Philadelphia, you will be held accountable and there will be consequences."
"Right now, there is no fear of accountability, there is no fear of consequences even if they are caught, and I think last night was certainly indicative of that," he added.