Are gun seizures really necessary in Baltimore?

USA-Reiseblogger / Pixabay

The city of Baltimore is a dangerous place and has been for a while. It’s had among the highest homicide rates in the nation, and that’s been the high point.

Officials there are understandably desperate to do something about the violence that’s only gotten worse in the last couple of years. They need to do something or they’re going to be voted out of office and they know it.

However, I’m not sure this is really the best use of their resources.

Baltimore police said it is continuing its efforts to crack down on violence in the city. Most recently, the department said officers recovered a number of guns and made several arrests last week.

Baltimore City leaders have said in the past that this has a direct effect on public safety.

In a separate operation, Mayor Brandon Scott and police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the arrests would bring peace to families and neighborhoods.

Despite the fact, the city is still getting hit with violence.

That’s not overly surprising, actually.

You see, while officials claim these efforts work, the truth is that one former officer there in Baltimore offers up some important nuance:

When asked if citywide crime sweeps really stop and prevent more crime, Jenkins-Bey said: “Yes and no. It stops that gun, that particular gun, at that moment from being used in another crime.”

This Johns Hopkins study on reducing violence supports that claim.

Researchers found in a four-year window that only 4 out of every 10 charges for illegal firearm possessions in Baltimore led to a formal conviction, guilty plea or probation. Reasons why the other 6 out of 10 gun charges dropped were not immediately shared to the public.

“My opinion is that no it’s not going to deter, it’s not going to stop those that want to do bad,” Jenkins-Bey said.

In other words, Jenkins-Bey is saying the same thing we’ve been saying for years.

So, what’s the answer? How can you reduce violent crime in a meaningful way?

To do that, you’ve got to get to the root of the problem and derail those who are heading down the wrong track before it’s too late. You’ve got to start with the young and not give up until they’re in the ground. You need programs to keep kids off the streets and to help those released from jail get back on their feet as productive members of society.

But you also have to be ready to drop the hammer on anyone who strays. You need a carrot and stick approach so that people can face long prison sentences for doing wrong, or they can get help getting a job and stay free by doing right. It’s just that simple.

Wasting time and money to seize guns, though, won’t do nearly as much as some like to believe. It isn’t going to help Los Angeles and it won’t help Baltimore. Not like people have deluded themselves to believe anyway.

There are more productive uses of time and treasure. It’s time these cities start looking at those.