I don’t expect the editorial board of the Baltimore Sun to be filled with ardent Second Amendment supporters, but I would like to think that the members of the paper’s editorial staff are at least smart enough to look at the statistics. Since Maryland imposed sweeping and restrictive gun control laws in 2013, homicides in Baltimore have been heading in the wrong direction, with six straight years of more than 300 murders.
It’s clear that the gun bans, universal background checks, limitations on magazine sizes, and other restrictions put in place back seven years ago have done nothing to improve public safety in Baltimore, but editors at the Sun are still firmly embracing an anti-gun agenda, including wringing their hands over the fact that gun sales have surged in the state this year.
In a new editorial, the paper’s editorial board blames Donald Trump for the increase in demand and interest in gun ownership, while ignoring the fact that the millions of new gun owners across the country include plenty of Americans who aren’t necessarily Trump voters.
Maryland, unfortunately, finds itself in the thick of this trend with a whopping 76% increase in FBI firearm background checks in the first 11 months of 2020 compared to the entirety of 2019, a handy precursor of sales. That is much higher than the still-impressive 49% nationwide increase in background checks, and higher than the increase in all but six other states (most of them more politically conservative). What’s worrisome here is not that the gun industry has profited from scaring people or that Mr. Trump once again found a way to tap white insecurity and racial resentment, but that now a lot more households will be stocked with firearms. And that has some serious consequences, perhaps the most troubling of which is it means more accidental and suicide-related shootings.
People aren’t buying guns because the firearms industry scared them or because Donald Trump has triggered their hidden racist impulses. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, gun sales among women and racial minorities are growing faster than gun sales among white males.
It has been well known inside the industry that purchasers of guns and ammunition have long had diverse demographic backgrounds. During the first half of 2020, retailers noted that the overall makeup of their customers consisted of 55.8 percent white males, 16.6 percent white females, 9.3 percent Black males, 5.4 percent Black females, 6.9 percent Hispanic males, 2.2 percent Hispanic females, 3.1 percent Asian males and 0.7 percent Asian females. The highest overall firearm sales increase comes from Black men and women who show a 58.2 percent increase in purchases during the first six months of 2020 versus the same period last year.
The editorial board of the Baltimore Sun would rather believe that the only things spurring on the surge in gun sales are political rhetoric on the part of the president and fear-mongering on the part of gun makers. The truth is that the Great Gun Run of 2020 began with the first round of coronavirus lockdowns in March of this year, and continued through the summer as riots and violent protests rocked many cities in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The increased demand for firearms was organic, not organized. Millions of Americans decided that they wanted a firearm for personal protection as police were informing the public that they would no longer be making arrests for some crimes, jails were being emptied to avoid outbreaks behind bars, and police pulled back from proactive law enforcement. It’s absolutely absurd for the paper’s editors to misdiagnose the reasons for the record-high number of gun sales, but it’s par for the course for them to point fingers at “the gun lobby” as opposed to the failures of gun control laws and the anti-gun agenda of Democrats like Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, don’t blame Joe Biden for raising public interest in gun buying, blame how Republicans have fueled an irrational fear of Mr. Biden’s gun policies. The president-elect’s positions on guns are not much different from where polls show most Americans are — he’s against high-capacity magazines and assault rifles and for universal background checks. To suggest this is gun-grabbing is the equivalent of protesting speed limits as an unconstitutional violation of freedom of movement. Meanwhile, cities like Baltimore will continue to be flooded with guns purchased elsewhere, stolen (or simply resold through poorly-regulated private sales) and then used to commit crimes. Perhaps what Americans need most right now is simply to learn the facts and recognize the danger posed by having a gun in their home.
Oh, I’d say that Biden’s positions are actually far outside of the mainstream. Go poll Americans and ask if people should be put in prison for merely maintaining possession of the guns and magazines they currently own, as Biden has demanded (unless, of course, those same Americans register their guns with the government and pay a hefty tax to do so).
The paper’s comparison with banning commonly owned firearms and ammunition magazines to imposing speed limits is even more ridiculous. We don’t have a constitutional right to drive 100 miles an hour and there is no federal speed limit imposed on car owners in all 50 states, but most importantly, the Biden gun-ban plan that the Sun‘s editorial board tries to portray as reasonable would turn the Second Amendment on its head. Some of the most commonly owned arms in the United States today would be placed beyond the protection of the Constitution. It’s not just a gun grab, but the criminalization of a constitutional right that we’re talking about.
The Sun‘s editors should know better, but it’s clear that they know little about the issue beyond the talking points from anti-gun activists and politicians. They say that private gun sales are “poorly-regulated,” for instance, but offer no ideas on how the government could proactively police sales between private gun owners. That’s because it’s virtually impossible to do so, but the editors clearly are still smitten with the idea that we can ban and regulate our way to safety. It hasn’t worked in Baltimore over the past seven years, and the fact that gun sales are surging in Maryland too is just another sign that many Americans have no faith in another gun control law to protect them or their family.