After the city’s homicide rate reached a near record high in 2019, many Baltimore residents have been praying that 2020 would be a different story. Unfortunately, so the new year has been just as rough as the last one. NBC News reports that last Saturday, twelve people were shot in the city, five of them fatally.
The city recorded 348 homicides last year, its fifth consecutive year with more than 300 murders and the most violent year ever on a per-capita basis.
City council president Brandon Scott, a Democrat running for mayor, issued a statement Sunday condemning the violence.
“A day that should have been met with pride and community was once again flooded with violence and loss,” Scott wrote, an apparent reference to an NFL divisional playoff game hosted by the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night.
“This violence is heartbreaking and must stop now,” added Scott, who said he plans to question Baltimore’s police commissioner and other agency heads about what they were doing in the affected communities before and after the shootings.
The violence in Baltimore is heartbreaking, but impotent talk from politicians like Scott won’t do a single thing to change that. The city’s suffering from a number of issues, including a lack of political leadership and turmoil and turnover in the police department. As the crime rate rises, too many politicians are proclaiming that the answer to Baltimore’s troubles is to put more gun control laws on the books, including more restrictions on shotguns.
Seven years ago, in 2013, Maryland lawmakers approved the Firearms Safety Act, which imposed a slew of restrictions on gun owners in the state, including a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. The laws have done nothing to bring down violent crime in Baltimore. In fact, since the law went into effect, homicides in Baltimore have soared, while good people in bad neighborhoods are still denied their right to bear arms in self-defense, thanks to the state’s restrictive “may issue” concealed carry laws.
Allowing folks to exercise their constitutional rights wouldn’t solve every problem plaguing Baltimore, but it’s still the right thing to do. Clearly the city and the state can’t keep residents safe, and legally have no responsibility to protect every individual citizen in the first place. While the city’s leaders try to fix a broken City Hall and damaged police department, they should take a truly bold step and start respecting the rights of citizens to protect themselves and their families.