‘No­body kill any­body,’ but ‘no­body’ lis­tened

Bal­ti­more’s feel-good week­end against vi­o­lence didn’t work

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

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 cease­fire, 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 midJuly 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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