Shootings in Baltimore are unfortunately not uncommon. The city has had 300+ homicides for eight straight years, stretching back to 2015, and last year Baltimore police recorded 332 murders.
Legally armed citizens, on the other hand, are almost unicorns in Baltimore, though their numbers appear to be on the rise. Before the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSPRA v. Bruen last year, Maryland’s “may issue” carry laws prevented the vast majority of Baltimore residents from obtaining a concealed carry license unless they could document a specific ongoing threat against their life or another “justifiable need” to bear arms in self-defense. Wanting to protect yourself because you live in a dangerous neighborhood or your neighbor got carjacked last week wasn’t good enough cause to carry, which kept the number of legally armed citizens artificially low, but in the wake of the Bruen decision concealed carry applications (and licenses themselves) have exploded, with more than 85,000 applications received by the Maryland State Police between July 1st and December 31st of last year.
While violent criminals may have enjoyed a target-rich environment in the past when it came to selecting their victims, anyone with robbery (or worse) on their mind these days is more likely to encounter an armed citizen, which was the case for one Baltimore resident who made a fatal mistake when he targeted a concealed carry holder last month.
Joseph Garrison, 42, was fatally shot on February 7 in the 3900 block of Ridgecroft Road.
Further investigation into Garrison’s death revealed he tried robbing a man before being killed.
The 24-year-old victim Garrison was attempting to rob happened to be legally carrying a gun, and used it in self defense.
Police say the shooter remained on scene.
After talking with the 24-year-old at the scene, police declined to arrest him or charge him with a crime, and now the incident has officially been classified as a justified homicide.
The local media seem strangely uninterested in this story, with outlets like the Baltimore Sun and WMAR providing just brief mentions of the fact that a legally-armed citizen was able to protect themselves from a violent encounter; something that would have been almost unheard of in the city until just a few months ago. And so far, no news outlet has made the connection between the rapidly growing number of concealed carry holders in the state and the surprising decline in violent crime in Baltimore so far this year. As FOX Baltimore reported last week:
As of this morning, there were 51 homicides in Baltimore in 2023 compared to 70 last year, a 27% decrease. Nonfatal shootings are also down, according to police. So far this year, there have been 94 nonfatal shootings compared to 133 at this time last year, according to police. That’s a 29% decrease from last year.
Now I’m not suggesting that the drop in shootings and homicides can be attributed solely to the change in Maryland’s carry laws. I’m sure there are a number of factors at work here. But according to gun control activists, with tens of thousands of Marylanders now licensed to carry a firearm in self-defense violent crime and murders in Baltimore should be getting worse, not better. After all, anyone who carries a gun is a “dangerous person” in their eyes, even if they possess a concealed carry license, so Maryland’s reluctant adoption of a “shall issue” licensing standard and the surge in applications should have made the state’s most dangerous city an even more treacherous place to be.
Clearly that hasn’t happened, though Baltimore still has a long way to go in terms of… well, almost everything. Public safety, public schools, corruption; you name it, and Baltimore could be doing better. Democrats at the state capitol are also looking to clamp down on concealed carry this session, so even the modest improvements over the past six months could be undone by anti-gun politicians in the very near future. If they get their way, defensive gun uses like this will once again be a thing of the past, and don’t be surprised if Baltimore ends up with a ninth straight year of 300+ murders.