Baltimore columnist accidentally makes a case for concealed carry

Seth Perlman

When Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks sat down to pen his latest screed, he was hoping to lay out the case against “shall issue” concealed carry. Instead, he ended up demonstrating the failure of Maryland’s many gun control laws when it comes to preventing crime, and inadvertently making the case for more Marylanders to exercise their right to armed self-defense.

Maryland is one of a handful of “may issue’ states that, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, are grappling with moving to a “shall issue’ system that, in theory anyway, should make it much easier for responsible gun owners to exercise their right to carry. Rodrick bemoans this current state of affairs by pointing to a recent report from the Bloomberg-funded anti-gunners at Johns Hopkins that purported to find states that relaxed their concealed carry laws saw a rise in violent crime; a finding not borne out by other studies that have found “no statistically significant association between the liberalization of state level firearm carry legislation over the last 30 years and the rates of homicides or other violent crime.” Rodrick didn’t bother to mention the study that contradicts the Johns Hopkins report, and why would he? He’s convinced that concealed carry is a terrible idea.

If you wanted a permit to carry a small, easily concealable handgun in Maryland, you had to apply for one from the Maryland State Police, and you had to have a good reason. Certain business owners and people who had been threatened or physically abused sought a concealed carry permit for self-defense. That always made sense. It was prudent.
But then, in June, the Supreme Court tossed aside the concept of “may issue” — versus “shall issue” — in the state granting of permits. The court ruled unconstitutional New York’s law requiring that people who wanted to carry a gun demonstrate that they had proper cause or special need. Permits can still be required, but the state’s authority is now greatly reduced.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wasted little time in making the gun-obsessed happy. He issued an order to bring state policy in line with the Supreme Court ruling, and a flood of applications for permits quickly followed.

It wasn’t prudent. It was prohibitive, and frankly it did nothing to protect Marylanders from violent crime. All you have to do is compare what happened in Florida, where “shall issue’ concealed carry was adopted in 1987, with may-issue Maryland’s homicide rate over the past few decades.

In 1987, Florida’s homicide rate was a whopping 11.4 per 100,000 people; higher than Maryland’s homicide rate of 9.6 per 100K. Between 1987 and 2019, however, Florida’s homicide rate declined by more than 50% to 5.2 per 100K, even as the number of licensed concealed carry holders grew to 2.5-million.

May-issue Maryland, on the other hand, has seen some swings in its homicide rate over the years, but nothing you could call a steady decline. Murders peaked in the state in 1993, at a rate of 12.7 per 100,000, but after slowly declining to 8 per 100K in 2000 (when Florida’s homicide rate had fallen to 5.6 per 100L) the number of homicides in Maryland started trending upwards again.

There were several more years of falling homicide rates in Maryland between 2008 and 2014, when the state saw an historic low of 6.1 homicides per 100K (shall-issue Florida’s homicide rate that same year was 4.9), but the homicide rate jumped to 9 per 100K the following year in the wake of the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, and since then the murder rate has never fallen below 8 homicides per 100,000 residents. Incidentally, the last time Florida’s homicide rate was as high as 8 per 100K was 1994, nearly thirty years ago.

Maryland fairs a little better when looking at overall violent crime rates, but Florida still comes out on top. Since 1987, violent crime per capita has declined in Maryland from 767.8 incidents per 100,000 people to 454.1 per 100K in 2019. Florida, on the other hand, saw its violent crime rate plunge from 1,024.4 to 378.4 over the same time period; a much larger drop and a lower overall level of violent crime compared to the “may issue” state.

Maryland’s gun control laws are routinely ignored by violent criminals, while law-abiding individuals with more to lose are subjected to numerous infringements on their right to both keep and bear arms. If Dan Rodrick or any other Maryland resident is delusional enough to believe that the state’s gun laws have been keeping them safe, they should book a flight to shall-issue Florida (though they should probably wait until after most of the cleanup of Hurricane Ian has taken place) and see for themselves how the Second Amendment and a safer society go hand-in-hand.