Maryland gun control failures on full display as teens shoot at 14-year-old on school bus

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The state of Maryland has plenty of gun laws in place ostensibly designed to prevent violent criminals and other prohibited persons from getting their hands on a firearm; universal” background checks, waiting periods, a “permit-to-purchase” handguns, storage laws, and bans on so-called assault weapons and “ghost guns” to name just a few.

While those laws have had a chilling effect on those who want to lawfully exercise their right to keep and bear arms, they’ve had little-to-no impact on the perpetrators of violence in the state. Baltimore has had eight straight years of 300+ homicides, and even suburban and more rural counties have seen an increase in violent crime in recent years. The opposite should be happening if gun control laws actually had the impact that anti-gun activists claim, but one recent incident in Prince George’s County reveals that while it may be difficult to legally acquire a firearm in the state, those willing and able to turn to the illicit market can quickly get their hands on one, even if they’re teenagers.

Three masked teens jumped on a school bus in Prince George’s County Monday afternoon and targeted a 14-year-old boy — the last remaining student on the bus.

One of the masked teens pointed a gun at the boy and pulled the trigger three times.

Three times, the gun didn’t fire. Police later found three live rounds on the bus.

“This was an attempted murder, plain and simple. Call it what it is,” said Martin Diggs, head of the bus drivers’ union.

… It happened late Monday afternoon on a school bus carrying students home from the Prince George’s County Alternative Middle School in Suitland.

Multiple sources confirm the bus’ onboard video system recorded the whole attack, including a point-blank attempt to shoot the middle schooler in the head.

When the gun didn’t fire after three tries, the attackers physically beat the 14-year-old boy. When the attackers ran off, the driver moved the bus to a safe area.

The three suspects were able to exit the bus after pistol-whipping the middle schooler, and so far police don’t have any suspects in custody.

Sadly, while it’s unusual to see this kind of attempted murder on a school bus in Prince George’s County, violent crime is all too common, especially when it comes to juveniles. At a community meeting in Oxon Hill, Maryland earlier this year, residents expressed growing frustration with the number of young offenders and the response (or lack thereof) from county officials.

Nearly everyone at the meeting inside the Oxon Hill Library shared the same mutual concern —  juvenile crime is getting out of hand. One attendee even called the current situation an “emergency.”

According to Prince George’s County police, 109 young people were arrested for carjackings in 2022. Since the start of the year, 9 juveniles were arrested for taking guns to school.

The glaring statistics prompted many people in the room to ask – where are the parents?

“I think we need stiffer penalties as far as parents are concerned,” one attendee suggested. “They need to be held accountable for their children.”

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said she can’t hold parents responsible for a child’s crime.

“Holding the parent accountable criminally will further erode the family structure,” she explained.

What Braveboy said she can do is provide families with resources. She is working with the sheriff’s office to start Saturday Academy for juveniles and their parents and provide them with tools they may need like child care.

“We absolutely need to focus on how do we give them the support they need, so young people aren’t making bad decisions,” Braveboy said.

I’m all in favor of helping kids learn to make better decisions, but that doesn’t mean that they should be able to avoid the consequences when they choose poorly and commit a crime. Last year, however, Maryland lawmakers instituted a number of reforms to the juvenile justice system designed to keep kids away from the courts and criminal justice system as much as possible, including making minors under the age of 13 ineligible for prosecution in many cases. It’s entirely possible that if the perpetrators of this assault on the 14-year-old are younger than he is they could avoid criminal charges altogether, even for illegally possessing a firearm. That’s what happened when a 12-year-old student brought a gun to school in nearby Anne Arundel County last year, and according to authorities that tween isn’t the only one to have escaped consequences for his criminal actions.

“Since the law took effect on June 1, 2022, we have had dozens of cases where juvenile suspects were located, identified, and unable to be charged. Those cases include assaults, weapons violations, intimidation, harassment, drug charges, theft, burglary, sex offenses, threats, motor vehicle thefts, animal abuse, arson, and incident exposures,” police said in a release.

Maryland’s anti-Second Amendment laws aren’t stopping prohibited persons from getting ahold of guns, and the juvenile justice “reforms” put in place last year means that even if they are caught with a gun the punishment they receive is likely to be pretty light. That’s a recipe for disaster; not just for those hoping to exercise their right to keep and bear arms in self-defense, but for every Maryland resident who wants to live in a safe place.

This is what Maryland voters have chosen, and given the leftward tilt of the state I doubt there’s going to be a change in direction anytime soon. In fact, with Gov. Wes Moore set to sign multiple bills aimed at lawful concealed carry and legal gun owners, the state is hitting the gas as it barrels down the dead-end road of gun control. Second Amendment advocates in Maryland have high hopes that the courts will undo most of the legislature’s damage, but they have long and expensive legal fights ahead of them, and even if they’re successful there’s no guarantee that the anti-gunners in Annapolis will start focusing on the actual perpetrators of violence instead of just going back to the drawing board and crafting another round of dangerous legislation that gives armed criminals an advantage over their intended targets. My wife and I actually considered moving to Prince George’s County, Maryland a decade ago before we decided to move to central Virginia instead (and the two state’s gun laws played a major role in where we ended up). I think we made the right choice. Farmville may have trouble keeping some criminals behind bars, but we have far less crime and a greater ability to defend ourselves than if we’d moved to Oxon Hill or Accokeek.