The Baltimore effect: What gun-grabbers don’t want to debate

What creates the most dangerous cities in the country? Hint: It isn’t allowing guns.

Disassembled handgun
Artfully79 | Getty Images


Substance is not the strong suit of the Left. Leftists tend to isolate one component of a policy issue, ignore the broader context, history, and consequences of the larger issue, and use and abuse a national tragedy to exploit their agenda. Using political human shields is the cherry on top. This is why they never want to discuss the broader history of gun violence and gun laws in America but instead keep a myopic focus on school shootings while hiding behind the victims.

Baltimore, my hometown, is a living repudiation of the essence of the gun-grabbing premise. Baltimore is now considered the most dangerous city in the country. And it’s spilling over to the suburbs. In my neighborhood, people are too scared to walk outside at night to throw out the trash because of the rampant burglaries, muggings, and carjackings. And no, they are not allowed to carry a gun, which is part of the problem.

Here are the three points the Left wants to ignore that broadly explain the Baltimore effect.

  • Violent crime and murder have dropped precipitously, almost miraculously, since 1993. This is probably the only positive social trend we’ve enjoyed in recent years. This period coincided directly with the trend of loosening of gun laws in most states, particularly right-to-carry laws. In 1993, less than 30 percent of Americans lived in right-to-carry states; now that number has grown to 70 percent. There are now 16.3 million people who hold concealed carry permits, a 256 percent increase since 2007. Violent crime got cut in half while the number of guns owned has nearly doubled since the early ’90s. While this doesn’t categorically prove that more guns equal less crime, it certainly refutes the thesis of the Left that more gun control is the answer.
  • Over the past few years, after two decades of a steady decline in murder, violent crime has risen in some major liberal cities directly after they enacted stricter licensing and background checks, “assault weapons” bans, and magazine capacity limitations. Meanwhile, most other jurisdictions continue to experience a drop in crime. Yes, some of the rise in certain cities is the Ferguson effect of handcuffing the police and more lenient sentencing (which in itself is a refutation of other liberal policies they don’t want to discuss), but once again it’s hard to demonstrate a gun emergency when it is the places with the strictest laws that not only have more shootings but are bucking the two-decade trajectory of plummeting crime rates across the nation.
  • While mass shootings have been on the rise, they are quite a recent phenomenon and did not begin anywhere near the timing of loosening of gun laws the way blue city crime increased immediately after enactment of gun control laws.

Which brings me back to Baltimore. Not only is concealed carry prohibited in Maryland (except for rare exceptions) as of October 1, 2013, anyone desiring to even purchase a handgun must obtain a handgun qualification license (HQL). This entails paying several hundred dollars for four hours of instruction, getting fingerprinted, and being monitored like a criminal by the state police. Only after that process does one enjoy the privilege of waiting potentially weeks to hear back from the police to even embark on purchasing a firearm for home defense. In addition, following Sandy Hook, Maryland enacted a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and banned the sale of 45 commonly owned semi-automatic rifles that have been used in some of these mass shootings.

The results are clear as day. Crime is way up. And stripped of the right to carry a weapon, the citizens around Baltimore are defenseless. After all, the criminals aren’t exactly concerned with anti-carry laws, much as they don’t obey gun-free zones on their way to shooting someone.

The reality is that liberals don’t care about murder and shootings when it doesn’t promote their agenda, which is why they never want to talk about Baltimore.

Liberals cannot answer this incontrovertible refutation to their thesis that controlling guns controls crime, so they seek to exclude any debate on the topic and focus solely on school shootings. Rather than focus on the cultural source of the problem and local school security precautions, they seek to make it a federal public policy issue about guns. But no serious person, even one who subscribes to the liberal view on guns, can contend that the rights-gutting remedies they are proposing will stop any of this. Banning bump stocks and putting more bureaucracy into background checks will not stop shootings.

Remember, Maryland requires a full license, not just a background check, just to own a gun in one’s home and not carry it. Yet gun violence in Maryland is soaring. The reality is that incontrovertible evidence demonstrates that more gun laws only serve to deter the very law-abiding citizens who could stop evil people, who will obtain guns anyway. There is a good case to be made that the rising crime stems from the Ferguson and Freddie Gray effects. But one cannot credibly assert that gun laws are the answer, given the data.

Unfortunately, Democrats and the media have the ability to focus national attention on whatever they desire because Republicans are pathetic and have no counter-narrative. They refuse to raise the issue of Democrats letting gun felons out of jail (and even agree with them on that), loosening sentencing, handcuffing the police, sanctuary cities, MS-13 gangs, and the drug crisis resulting from open borders. The criminal alien issue is 100 percent political and the result of bad public policy, not culture, because criminal aliens can and should be deported anyway. Yet Republicans agree with Democrats on the fundamentals of the issue and allow them to chain the national debate exclusively to school shootings and AR-15s.

Even as it relates to domestic crime, Republicans refuse to put Democrats on defense for the broader issue. Even with the devastation of school shootings over the past few years, the rash of blue city murders and handguns and knives are a much bigger issue than school shooters and semi-auto rifles on a national scale. Yes, it is a great national horror when we see 17 people killed in a school. But shouldn’t there at least be some focus when the same number of people are killed in a few days in places like Baltimore and Chicago – partly by draconian gun laws?

In reality, even with the rise in school shootings, 374 people were killed in 2016 by criminals wielding rifles, 116 of whom were killed in mass shooting events. Yet almost 11,000 others were killed in our streets by gun violence, mainly by handguns and most prominently in jurisdictions with tough gun laws. Moreover, five times as many people were killed by knives than by rifles in 2016. And while our political elites, the same folks peddling the gun control agenda, obsesses over every other measure of racial disparity, they don’t want to discuss the fact that 7,881 black people were victims of homicides in 2016. In other words, 1,305 more black people were killed than white people in 2016. That is simply an astounding statistic given that black people compose just 13 percent of the population. Some of this is due to culture, some of it is due to liberal crime laws, but none of it can be pinned on lack of background checks for purchasing guns. You need to go through a two-month licensing process just to own a gun in one’s home in Maryland, yet Baltimore is the king of homicide.

The notion that expanding background checks and barring gun accessories will stop any of this is absurd. And it’s especially offensive to discuss bump stocks when the biggest mass shooting of all in Las Vegas remains shrouded in mystery and the government refuses to tell us what happened. But the narrative, somehow, is that banning bump stock will save the day. Pay no attention to anything behind the curtain.

Focusing on AR-15s and school shootings is the equivalent of Democrats seeking to define the broader immigration/border issue by illegal immigrants who are valedictorians or serve in the military. Yet anyone with half a brain understands that the broader issue of immigration is a crisis of crime, gangs, poverty, welfare, and drugs that is killing Americans.

The same applies to the entire Democrat thesis on crime and guns. Leftists seek to destroy all tough-on-crime laws except for taking guns away from law-abiding individuals. They refuse to recognize the connection between the two – that the ubiquitous daily violence in blue cities is essentially the result of gun-free zone policies. Realize that 98.4 percent of all mass shootings since 1950 have taken place in gun-free zones.

A sane Republican Party would make a push against gangs, sanctuary cities, amnesty, and drug smugglers, while simultaneously eliminating gun-free zones and barriers to concealed carry. Anti-carry laws are counterintuitive even from a liberal perspective. Even if one believes that more barriers to purchasing a gun help keep guns out of the hands of criminals (see Baltimore for the reality on that point), there is no way barriers to carry will prevent criminals from carrying once they have weapons. It will just prevent good people from defending themselves or from cutting down mass shooters before they can inflict more casualties — like the good man with a gun in Sutherland Springs.

With our existing cultural breakdown in this country, lapses in judgment, and lack of focus on real threats, the only thing more gun laws will accomplish is ensuring that there are even fewer people available to counter mass shooters when they inevitably continue perpetrating attacks. If you don’t believe me, just come to Baltimore for a few weeks to experience “ceasefire weekends.”

The most interesting stories aren’t told in the headlines. They’re in the FOOTNOTES!

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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.