Despite the stay-at-home orders and other measures put in place in cities across the country over the past few months, violent crime on the streets in places like Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Denver have been trending up since the orders took effect, and authorities say the increase isn’t being driven by new gun owners. Instead, it appears as if career criminals are continuing to ignore the same laws that they always have, with deadly consequences.
In Cincinnati, for example, homicides from January 1st to May 1st this year were more than double the number of murders over the same time period in 2019.
Homicides are up 115% so far this year, more than doubling to 28 from 12 at this time in 2019, Police Chief Eliot Isaac told City Council’s Law & Public Safety Committee Tuesday.
“Of our 28 homicides, 25 of those are gun-related,” the chief said. “The other three are by other means, which is a little bit higher than what we normally see.”
Shootings so far this year also are up, by 52 percent compared to this time last year with 120 total, he said. Out of those, 95 were non-fatal.
At the same time, police have been unable to do some proactive and preventive measures such as distributing flyers, community sweeps and putting the gunshot detective system ShotSpotter in Westwood, the chief said.
Aggravated assaults and robberies are also up in Cincinnati compared to the same time period in 2019, and I’m not sure all that can be blamed on a lack of flyers and community sweeps.
In Baltimore, some categories of violent crime are actually down compared to last year, but the city is still on pace for more than 300 homicides for the sixth straight year after eight homicides over the Memorial Day weekend.
By Monday, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison held a press conference to address the violence.
“Several of our victims had handguns on them when police arrived and at the time of the incident which speaks to why we have to have smart enforcement and real consequences for people who are illegally carrying firearms because that is at the core of this culture of violence,” he said.
“We know that most of the persons or several of the persons are no strangers to our criminal justice system to include murder convictions, attempted murdered convictions, and robbery convictions,” Harrison said. “Some of this was retaliatory violence.”
If most of the victims and perpetrators of violence are well known to law enforcement, doesn’t that beg the question as to why so many repeat offenders are still on the street after murder, attempted murder, and robbery convictions? And if city leaders are intent on cracking down on people illegally carrying firearms, perhaps the state of Maryland should get with the program and actually have concealed carry laws that enable the average resident to acquire a concealed carry license. Currently, applicants must demonstrate a special need in order to receive a carry license, and that doesn’t seem to be doing anything to reduce violent crime even as it infringes on the constitutional rights of Maryland gun owners.
In Denver, Colorado, both homicides and aggravated assaults dramatically increased beginning in March of this year, despite the state’s gun laws, which include a universal background check, ban on ammunition magazines that can accept more than 15-rounds, and a local “assault weapon” ban on the books in Denver. According to police in the city, domestic violence calls are in line with what they’ve seen in previous years, and Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen says he believes the increase in shootings is because many career criminals were set free from local jails over coronavirus concerns.
He said Denver police have caught the same people committing multiple crimes since pandemic guidelines have changed how the justice system does business: “We have contacted and arrested several people for these high-level crimes and then rearrested them days later.”
Considering the crime spikes after the 2008 recession, Pazen said he’s concerned that the summer of 2020 will be a busy one for his officers.
A busy summer for police means a dangerous summer for citizens, and that’s probably the biggest factor driving up firearm sales for first-time gun owners in recent months. Law-abiding Americans aren’t exercising their right to keep and bear arms because they’ve decided to become violent criminals themselves. Instead, they’re simply trying to protect themselves and their families in an increasingly dangerous environment where career criminals are being put right back on the streets with no consequences for their violent actions.