City vs. Country over Philly Gun Scourge

Philadelphia says rural state stands in the way of needed gun control laws.

July 8, 2007 — -- Nearly every day, someone in Philadelphia is shot to death. At least one person has already been murdered this weekend, and there have been 213 murders so far this year.

Last fall 5-year-old Cashae Rivers was riding in the backseat of a car when a bullet ripped through her heart. Her aunt, Kim Carter-Ford, said the violence cannot continue.

"It does make you want to retaliate," she said, "but no one wants to keep the cycle going."

Watch David Kerley's report on gun problems in Philadelphia tonight on "World News." Check local listings for air time.

The murder rate in Philadelphia has soared to twice the rate of most major cities. In fact, Philadelphia has more murders than New York City, which has six times the population.

Unlike New York, Philadelphia cannot pass its own gun laws. According to Philadelphia City Councilman Darrel Clarke, the state of Pennsylvania has preempted all of the city's abilities to deal with gun regulations.

With their hands tied, city officials plan to sue their own state government.

"I can no longer continue to sit here and allow the level of violence to continue unabated," said Clarke, "simply because people don't feel it's appropriate to do what I believe is their mandatory duty."

Philadelphia urban leaders say all they want is to restrict gun purchases to one a month, and require a yearly $10 registration fee to target those who buy guns in bulk and sell to criminals.

But Pennsylvania's rural communities are making the establishment of gun regulations an uphill battle. Most of Pennsylvania is rural, and its rural communities value guns and hunting.

State Representative Steve Cappelli, an avid hunter who said he defends the second amendment, said gun limits won't work.

"Any measure we give Philadelphia," Cappelli said, "any new regulation and new authority to regulate firearms, will not impact the very element that is terrorizing that city."

That argument is being echoed across much of the country as rural sensibilities continue rule the gun debate -- and cities like Philadelphia prepare for another night and maybe another shooting death.

ABC News' David Kerley reported this story for "World News."