Strictly speaking, this post is not a “gun” article (or at least it should not be). However, a recent increase in violent crime inside several U.S. cities, including St. Louis and Baltimore, has led President Obama and his equally opportunistic political allies to push for more anti-gun measures. Reportedly aimed to address this violence, the President and Congressional Democrats feel that more stringent laws will help to reverse this very troubling trend. Unfortunately for them, this likely is not the case.
Since Maryland, and Baltimore specifically, has been the center of much of this negative attention, let’s take a look at the state’s impressively onerous gun laws. In order to purchase a handgun in Maryland, residents must first pass a training course, submit fingerprints, and pass a state background check. Once they have done so, they may obtain a handgun license, but new handguns sold in Maryland must be on the state’s approved roster. When residents then go to purchase the handgun, they must also pass the FBI’s NICS background check before taking possession of the firearm. Handgun magazines are limited to ten rounds and as a “may issue” state, carry licenses are all but out of the question for most people.
Like handguns, long guns are also limited to 10 round magazines (although larger capacity parts may be brought into the state, but not sold or transferred). Restrictions on types of long arms allowed in Maryland are similar to the old “Assault Weapons Ban” in that certain named models of firearms and long arms with specific aesthetic features are banned from private possession. Buyers are limited to one regulated firearm (can be handgun or rifle) a month and the state mandates “universal background checks”.
As readers can see, officials in Maryland would have to go to great effort to undermine the Second Amendment any more than they already do. With such stringent laws, how is it possible that criminals continue to misbehave? Could it be that these measures are not effective in preventing crime? It certainly seems this way.
Some people have termed this spring’s crime wave the “Ferguson Effect”. The prevailing belief is that in communities where incidents like the Michael Brown shooting have taken place, police and other law enforcement agencies are now afraid to effectively do their job. These emergency responders (rightfully) feel that they are not supported by their leadership and that they are resented by their city’s people. Fearing that confrontations or arrests might lead to more protests or worse, retribution, many law enforcement officers in urban centers have transitioned to more of an “observe and report” role. This means that major U.S. cities are without effective, proactive police forces that have been so instrumental to declining crime rates throughout the U.S.
The graphs below bring alarming color to this story. Originally published in the Baltimore Sun, this data shows a striking correlation between arrest statistics and crime in the city. It also supports the theory that officers are simply too afraid to effectively do their jobs.
While law enforcement officers do occasionally make mistakes, it is clear that communities need their services to maintain order. It is sad to see the violence in U.S. urban centers sold as a gun control talking point when it is quite clear that more is at play. Let’s hope Americans have enough sense to see through this absurd prohibitionist rhetoric.