"This law will begin saving lives on October 1 (2013)." - Vincent DeMarco, President, Marylanders against Gun Violence (July, 2013).
Well, a few months after one of the nation's strictest gun control laws went into effect, Baltimore's Mayor, Police Commissioner, and other dignitaries are on a full press junket - now stretching into two months - to explain away the lack of law and order in Maryland's largest city. While the City's worst annual murder total stands at 355 (0.70 murders per day), 2014's beginning offered up 0.78 murders per day, on track to hit nearly 400 total murders this year, despite record-setting cold months that kept most Baltimoreans indoors and presumably out of harm's way. Historically, few murders occur in the coldest months, with high murder rates most associated with high summer heat and a lack of air conditioning forcing large numbers of people out into the community until the early, cooling, hours of morning. Mathematically, this means the carnage could escalate not just arithmetically but nonlinearly.
As Mayor Rawlings-Blake told the Baltimore Brew, "We have a strategy that we know works." Here's the thing. No you don't. Over 50% of adults in the city do not work (yes, some of those are retired). Over 50% of city children never receive their GED or high school diploma, and nearly 40% don't even make it to 9th grade. Over 70% of violent felons get convicted again - in the City. Over 75% of murder victims are convicted felons who previously served jail time. Baltimore is ranked between the #1 and #6 most dangerous city in America every year, and is currently ranked the #12 most dangerous city in the world. I apologize, Madame Mayor, but you "have a strategy that (you) know works?" What? How? When? Quite seriously, the failing communities, systems, and infrastructure in this City are clear indicators that most things aren't working.
The Mayor, who some will recall made grandiose comments in 2013 about how City neighborhoods are under siege from criminals, yet also noted that the obvious way (to her) to correct that problem would be to limit legal citizens' access to guns to protect themselves from criminals. Her exact words were that the Firearms Safety Act of 2013 "deserves our full support." The Act makes it prohibitively difficult and expensive for a large number of Marylanders to legally purchase and own a handgun, and also banned some assault rifles (responsible for less than 2% of the City's crime).
So, with 2014 only 90-some days old and nearly 50 Baltimoreans buried in the ground, having been murdered by firearms that were promised to be swept of the streets by Governor O'Malley's Gun Safety bill, perhaps we should pass another law, you know, "close the loopholes." Let's look at the existing firearms laws in Baltimore and see - critically - the impact they are having on crime.
1. In Baltimore, it is illegal to discharge any firearm at any time for any reason other than police business.
2. In Baltimore, it is nearly impossible to obtain a concealed weapons permit (approval rate <1 nbsp="" p="" percent="">3. In Baltimore, it is a crime to carry a concealed knife.
4. In Baltimore, it is a crime to "open carry" a handgun (firearms violation)
5. In Baltimore , it is a crime to display a BB or pellet gun anywhere in public
6. In Baltimore, it is a crime to "open carry" a rifle or shotgun (disturbing the peace / intimidating the public)
7. In Maryland, it is impossible to legally purchase an assault weapon (as defined by the state)
8. In Maryland, it is impossible to legally purchase a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds
9. In Maryland, it is a crime to shoot anyone (even an intruder in your home) in the back
10. In Maryland, it is a crime to shoot anyone (for any reason) outside your home
11. In Maryland and Baltimore, murder is illegal.
12. In Maryland and Baltimore, maiming via firearm is illegal.
13. In Maryland, it is a crime to discharge a weapon from a moving vehicle.
14. In Maryland, it is impossible to legally purchase a handgun without passing 5 background checks, state police fingerprinting, handgun safety training completion, and obtaining a Handgun Qualification License.
I think it's fair to say we have plenty of gun laws. So why are there still murders at all? With all the new brand new laws, why are firearms murders happening at an even greater rate than has ever before occurred?
I know that you gun control supporters are reading this, waiting for me to make a specious argument like, "Gun control causes crime - see?!" But, I would never say that, because obviously there's no relationship between these laws and whether citizens are being gunned down in the streets. And that's precisely my point. There's no relationship between gun laws and the preponderance of murder in our Baltimore communities. The suburban gun control Moms have gone back to their McMansions. The lawmakers who proposed the absolute necessity of more gun control in 2013 (themselves holders of concealed carry permits) have gone away, having won a battle on the state stage that the Brady Campaign and the Bloomberg fund would be proud of (and send more money please!). The clergy who insisted that finally this law would sweep onto the landscape and save the vulnerable youth from the impossible claws of the poverty-violence-addiction cycle...they've gone back to the pulpit to talk about something else.
If you own a home in a bad area of Baltimore, gun control proponents believe they've done you a favor by making it nearly impossible to legally defend yourself, your family, or your property. Meanwhile, illegal guns are imported daily into Baltimore - not from "states with weak gun control", as gun control fanatics believe - but from the former Soviet republics. From China. From Africa. They are poor quality weapons for sure. But they are cheap and readily available, without all the hassles of background checks and waiting periods.
Be careful out there - it's a tough town, even though its people have a big heart. But those fancy gun laws won't be there to help you when the bad guys show up. While Baltimore has more police officers than any major city in the USA, I'm sorry, they won't get to you in time. The ongoing murder sprees and the lengthy list of gun laws being broken hundreds of times per day in Baltimore demonstrate that much. 1>