On October 1, 2018, Maryland enacted one of the loosest red flag gun laws in the country. Since then, 788 petitions have been filed to remove property from law abiding citizens who “may” be high risks of committing violence to themselves or others with a firearm. Around half have been granted.
Baltimore, one of the most dangerous cities in the country, accounts for around 10% of the entire state’s population. As a result, it’s seen as the litmus test for tough anti-crime legislation (or in the case of red flag gun laws, tough anti-citizen legislation) enacted by the state. It’s also the one that has the most prominent data to the point that homicide numbers have to be updated daily.
This year, Baltimore is on pace to eclipse its firearm homicide rate of 2018. According to the Baltimore Sun’s homicide tracker, there have been 193 homicides by shooting, pacing for 309 for the year. Last year, without the red flag gun law in place for the first nine months, Baltimore’s total homicides by shooting was 274.
Baltimore is pacing for a 13% increase in gun-related homicides since the red flag gun law went into effect.
Following the mass shootings two weeks ago in El Paso and Dayton, emotions have been high. Even many 2nd-Amendment-defending Republican lawmakers are starting to bend in favor of embracing red flag gun laws. They’re an ideal choice for trying to look like they’re fixing the mass shooting problem, but despite 17 states enacting the law since 2012, there have been zero examples of a potential mass shooter who was stopped.
One would think we’d hear reports of police issuing an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) and finding somebody with a cache of weapons or a notebook with detailed plans for carrying out domestic terrorism. We haven’t. Instead, we hear about Gary J. Willis who died because he may have committed a crime sometime in the future. Oddly enough, this was heralded by local politicians as an example of a red flag gun law victory.
There are better solutions. As our EIC noted, we need to loosen gun laws, not make them stricter. He also noted there are ways to mitigate mass shootings without gun control.
Emotions following a mass shooting prompted Maryland’s red flag gun law. Now hundreds of law abiding citizens have had their property confiscated, but gun violence has actually increased. Let’s rethink this before moving forward with more.
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