Baltimore's anti-gun efforts aren't stopping crime

Baltimore's anti-gun efforts aren't stopping crime
(Kenneth K. Lam/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

For the eighth year in a row, Baltimore has surpassed the grim milestone of 300 homicides in one year. With all kinds of gun laws in place at the state level, including a ban on so-called assault weapons, “universal” background checks, licensing for legal gun owners, and (until just a few months ago) a “may-issue” system for concealed carry that prevented all but a handful of residents across the state from lawfully carrying in self-defense, Baltimore should be one of the safest cities in the country… at least if gun control did anything to reduce or prevent crime.

Instead, two years after Mayor Brandon Scott assumed office and promised to reduce “gun violence” by 15% every year, violent crime in the city remains largely unchanged.

Baltimore has recorded 322 homicides in 2022, roughly the same number as last year. The city experienced its highest count on record in 1993 with 353 killings. Detectives solved less than 40% of homicide cases in 2022, according to agency data.

“I’ll be the first person to admit, we are not where we need to be,” Scott said at a Wednesday news conference addressing the numbers. “It is clear that we are moving forward, but this work has just begun.”

That’s the kind of meaningless pablum that Baltimore mayors have been spouting for decades. The work has just begun? When exactly did the work start? Was there no strategy in place or work being done before Scott assumed office? Of course not. It’s just Scott’s way of acknowledging the continued state of suckage in the city he runs, while trying to deflect away any criticism for his failure to bring down crime.

Just a few weeks ago, Scott blamed Baltimore’s violence on a supposed lack of gun laws, though again the mayor spouted off empty talking points rather than offering up any substantive ideas.

“We need stricter gun laws that keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of individuals who are reckless and irresponsible”, stated Scott. “We need a justice system that will hold hose who commit these acts accountable and see that they serve time for what they’ve done. We need community members to work together to support young people and help them see there are other ways to resolve conflict other than violence”.

You’ve already got the strict gun laws. The problem is that the “reckless and irresponsible” citizens who are preying on their neighbors don’t really care what the laws are, especially if they have little-to-no fear of the consequences of breaking them. With a homicide clearance rate below 40% the sad reality is that most murderers are getting away with their crimes right now, and criminals feel emboldened despite Scott’s declaration that overall arrests have increased during the past year.

Detectives had made fewer homicide arrests as of Saturday, Dec. 17, than they had on the same date last year. Police have arrested a suspect in 111 of the 321 killings recorded through Dec. 17, department data show.
But as of Saturday, overall arrests by Baltimore Police were up 10% for this year, compared to the same period last year, police data show. The bump in arrests appears to be driven by an approximately 22% increase in arrest warrants served through mid-December, year over year.
Comparing the same date year over year, arrests for gun offenses are up almost 20% in 2022. Baltimore Police had seized 300 more guns by Dec. 17 this year than they had on the same day a year earlier. A greater proportion of the guns seized by police this year compared to last — about 18% — were untraceable ghost guns.
And how many of those arrests for gun offenses were based on nothing more than possessing a firearm without a concealed carry license? My guess is that there are plenty of folks in Baltimore who are willing to risk picking up a gun charge because it beats the alternative of being robbed, carjacked, or murdered. Those individuals might be carrying in violation of state law, but they have no intent or desire to commit a violent crime. And until very recently, they stood no chance whatsoever of being able to acquire a concealed carry license that would allow them to lawfully bear arms in self-defense.
Baltimore can’t gun control its way out of its public safety problems. There are already scores of gun laws on the books throughout the state of Maryland, but they’re mostly directed at those Marylanders who want to be legal, responsible gun owners. Sadly though, with Democrats now in complete control of state government as of January, Scott will probably get his wish for even more infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. As for Baltimoreans’ desire for a safer city… well, not all wishes come true, especially when you keep electing politicians who believe your right to self-defense is a problem that needs to be solved rather than a birthright that must be protected.