- - Monday, August 7, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As an injunction for personal morality, “Nobody kill anybody” lacks the dignity and solemnity of the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” But Baltimore is desperate for something — anything — to stanch the bloodletting on its streets.

In the first 212 days of 2017 (through the end of July), Charm City counted 205 murders — an average of nearly one a day. If that rate continues, the city will count 350 killings this year, up from 318 last year, which would enable Baltimore to challenge Chicago for the dubious title of “murder capital of the nation.” Both cities have some of the strictest gun-control laws in the nation.

Purveyors of gallows humor have taken to calling Baltimore “Bodymore, Murderland” (say it fast). But it’s no laughing matter. Going into this past weekend, a coalition of churches and community organizations in Baltimore set out on a campaign of moral suasion, called “Nobody kill anybody,” with a 72-hour citywide cease-fire, putting the slogan on social media and even T-shirts. The city counted two murders over the weekend, just matching the going rate of one-a-day.

Correlation and causation aren’t the same thing, of course, but to the extent that the “Nobody kill anybody” campaign can be credited for curbing the carnage, it was more successful than a similar effort by Mothers of Murdered Sons over the Mother’s Day weekend. Three died then.

Some may call this a moral victory, but it demonstrates that “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns,” is more than facile wordplay.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel blames the violence on guns brought in from nearby Indiana and Wisconsin. Some in Baltimore blame guns from nearby Virginia for the blood-spilling in Baltimore. But the low homicide rates in Northern Virginia jurisdictions of comparable size refute the claims of Baltimore politicians that Virginia’s relaxed gun laws are to blame for lawlessness in Baltimore.

According to FBI figures for 2016, Fairfax County, Virginia, with a population of 1.14 million — nearly twice that of Baltimore — counted just 16 homicides in 2016. Loudoun and Prince William Counties, with a combined population 200,000 greater than Baltimore‘s, counted just 24 murders last year.

Arlington County, Virginia, with a population a third the size of Baltimore, has counted one murder per year for the past three years. Nor has Peace in Arlington been troubled by the existence of Nova Park Armory gun store, whose March 2016 opening anti-gun fanatics tried and failed to block.

For gun-control fans, it’s the thought, not the reality, that counts. “It’s an issue of feeling secure,” says Virginia Delegate Alfonso Lopez of Arlington, a Democrat who supported blocking the opening of Nova Park Armory. “It’s an issue of feeling safe.”

Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, collected by the American Enterprise Institute, demonstrate that in the decade between 1993 and 2013 the number of gun homicides per 100,000 per person fell by nearly 50 percent, from 7 to 3.6, even as the number of privately owned guns climbed 56 percent, from 0.94 to 1.45 per person.

Such numbers sharply contradict the solution of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who in mid-July endorsed a mandatory one-year sentence for illegal gun possession within 100 yards of a school, church, park or other public place.

The murder epidemic in Baltimore is not so much a gun problem than a problem of urban gang thugs, which more gun laws won’t fix. Ranting against the Second Amendment might feel good, but feel-good sentiment never frightens a thug.


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