PHILADELPHIA - If anyone has put his name and life on the line in the fight against gun violence in Philadelphia, it’s Jamal Johson. Like many in the city, the former Marine and activist are fed up with gun violence. The disabled vet firmly believes that the National Guard is our best hope to settle things down -at least long enough that we can devise and implement a workable solution.

It’s an unpopular opinion that Johson is now 20 percent closer to realizing. He’s already collected 200 of 1,000 signatures to submit a formal petition to the Mayor, the Attorney General, and the Governor.

“We have no visible, viable protection against the chaos consuming our streets,” said Johnson. “Visibility is one of the major shortcomings of those tasked with protecting the public. The communities suffering the most aren’t receiving any signal from the city that their lives matter.”

This effort to collect signatures is far from Johnson’s first rodeo. In January of 2021, he went on a hunger strike outside of City Hall until Mayor Kenney came out and heard his concerns. The Marine and the Mayor eventually spoke, but nothing came of it.

Last winter, Johnson raised the stakes. He walked from Philadelphia to Governor Wolf’s private residence to raise the same issue - lack of action on the part of government officials in the fight to keep our city safe. Facing arrest, he stood his ground and got an audience with the Governor’s Chief of Staff. More empty promises followed.

Johnson voiced his unpopular opinion at a roundtable discussion hosted by Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson at City Hall on Thursday. He faced backlash to the tune of “Why do we need the guard? Why can’t we take care of our own community?” Johnson does not think that we can’t. He’s just realistic about the fact that -for whatever reason - we aren’t.

“Whether we’re talking about the Police or organizations who received funding under Community Expansion Grants,” Johnson concluded, “we’re failing miserably.”

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