Baltimore mayor resistent to mandatory minimums for carrying a gun

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The idea of mandatory minimums is that by dictating a set minimum sentence for committing a given crime, you’re making it clear that such offenses won’t be tolerated. In theory, it should help act as a deterrent for those crimes.

In Baltimore, there’s a discussion of passing a mandatory minimum for anyone caught illegally carrying a firearm. There’s just one problem. It seems the mayor who opposed them last time they came up for discussion hasn’t changed his mind on them.

The debate for mandatory minimum sentences dates back years and for Mayor Brandon Scott, his track record of opposition predates his tenure as leader of Baltimore City.

The number of homicides for 2021 surpassed 300 for the seventh year in a row and to date, 335 people have been killed in Baltimore.

Four years ago, there was a plan introduced when Scott was a member of the City Council and chaired the Public Safety Committee. At the time, Scott worked to kill the plan that called for a local implementation for a one-year mandatory sentence and a $1,000 fine for someone caught carrying a gun illegally. When asked if, now that he’s mayor, he views the plan differently, Scott emphatically said no.

“I will say this again. We already have mandatory minimums in Maryland and anyone who knows about that bill, mandatory minimums don’t work,” Scott said in June. “I was here in 2011 when the homicides were low, I was here in 2014. I don’t remember Deputy Commissioner Barksdale or Commissioner Bealefeld saying we need a new mandatory minimum law. What we actually need is to make sure that there are swift consequences and for sure consequences for folks committing gun crimes.”

Scott added that what the City really needs “is to make sure that there are swift consequences for folks committing gun crimes.” Scott said then-Commissioner Fred Bealefeld did not call for mandatory minimum plans, but a FOX45 News investigation found former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – who was in office while Bealfeld was in charge of BPD – was in support of mandatory minimum sentences.

I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with the mayor of Baltimore, but here we are.

Granted, I suspect we’re coming from different places, but the truth of the matter is that setting a mandatory minimum on anyone caught illegally carrying a gun is going to send a lot of people to jail for a period of time who may only be carrying illegally because they can’t do so legally.

As things currently stand, Maryland is a may-issue state that requires a “good and substantial reason” for anyone to receive a permit. That means a lot of people who are fearful of the criminal activity that plagues Baltimore are forced to decide whether they prefer to be victimized by the criminals or the government.

To include a mandatory minimum simply amps up the injustice done to these individuals.

Scott’s comment about focusing on “swift consequences for folks committing gun crimes” is much more sane and reasonable, though I’d prefer he just focus on violent crimes in totality than acting as if a murder with something other than a gun isn’t really so bad. Still, it’s a positive development. It should be interesting to see if anyone else in the city is willing to go along.