Huge front page headline in today’s Inquirer: “Homicides surge past 2006 rate.” Hmmm…. “Surge” is becoming a popular word; it’s used repeatedly in the article:

For the moment, police administrators say they can’t be sure what is driving the latest surge.
“At this point we characterize ’07 as out of character” compared to last year because a larger number of homicides have occurred indoors – twice as many, year-to-date – police spokesman Capt. Benjamin Naish said.
Asked to explain the import of that finding, Naish said it showed “many violent confrontations are taking place outside the normal patrol areas where police are able to impact and prevent those incidents.”
“We follow up, and hopefully, we are able to solve these crimes,” he said. “The highway patrol and narcotics strike force are zoning in on areas where we have historical data to indicate high levels of gun violence,” and a special tactical unit – SITE – has stepped up its work, he said.
He also cited a list of social ills – “poverty, unemployment, educational challenges” – as contributing to the surge.

I’m not saying anyone is getting stuck on surge, mind you, as that would be plagiaristic.
Not to pick nits with Captain Naish, but four of the deaths involved an “angry investor [who] opened fire at the Navy Yard, killing three business partners before killing himself.” The killer and the victims were all white collar types and the investment involved hundreds of thousands of dollars. Considering that the 22 percent “surge” over last year’s January and February numbers consists of an additional eleven people, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to attribute the entire “surge” to poverty, unemployment, and education.
Couple the front page with this editorial letter with the oversize headline of “Different rules on gun ownership“:

The solution to gun violence ultimately will be political. It will involve educating rural and urban gun owners on the reasons why they need different sets of rules for gun ownership.
Rural residents can be more than an hour away from law-enforcement help and may need to protect themselves with force before law enforcement arrives.
Urban residents are threatened by concealed automatic and assault-style weapons favored by street gangs. The urban violence is aggravated by automobile drive-bys for escape in seconds – even with the availability of law enforcement in minutes.
We need to establish a legal framework that enables protection in rural areas without enabling the gun epidemic in poor urban areas.
This compromise may be facilitated by further research – to convince suburban and rural citizens of the realities. But nobody wants this research to take decades to convince know-nothing politicians and gun bigots the way it took decades to get global warming past foot-draggers such as former Senators John Ashcroft and Jesse Helms.

While calling people bigots might not be the best way to acheive compromise, I can’t dismiss this as an ordinary letter to the editor or one man’s opinion, because the letter writer is a local Democratic activist who specializes in letter writing:

I’ve been writing 3 letters to the editor almost every day since 2003. RapidResponse_PA is a wonderful group of active letter writers. Between us, we have been published an average of twice a week — setting the record straight against wrong-wing editorials, insipid newspaper endorsements, and wildly misleading Republican astroturf.

That’s all well and good, and I wish more people would show such civic mindedness. The point is, I think the letter writer speaks for more than himself. The urban-versus-rural gun control meme is a growing movement which I think is part of a strategy. (And as strategies go, it might be far more effective than the attempt to divide hunters from other gun owners.)
There’s clearly a movement afoot to allow local gun control in cities, and I think the idea might be to count on suburban and rural voters to simply write off the large cities as irrelevant to their lives. They’re hoping that the complacent suburbanites and country folk will roll their eves over urban crime and say, “if they want gun control in the cities, let them have it!”
Besides, the cities are more civilized. Urban. Sophisticated. Country people are primitive, violent. Into things like hunting. NASCAR.
In Pennsylvania, gun control is undeniably a red-versus-blue issue. In urban areas, there are racial overtones to the debate, and even though the clear intent is to disarm black urban citizens, gun control opponents are being called racist.
Racial overtones drive so many of these things that I’d be willing to bet that the gun control strategists are counting on what they think is racism from rural and suburban voters to mesh with the urban push to disarm the city people. Calling opposition to selective gun control racist is a brilliant way to reassure the “red” inclined people that they’re really not racist at all when they look the other way as the Second Amendment rights of urban dwellers are jettisoned.
While I hope it backfires, I think it’s an excellent strategy. At least, the math seems to work.
Certainly, no one can say that the gun grabbers aren’t doing their homework.
Who knows? With any luck, the selective gun control meme might even stand a chance of dividing Republicans.
I mean, who wants to be a “gun bigot”?