Response to The Baltimore Sun's “Guns and the new Supreme Court”
Rarely have so many misguided arguments been contained in so few words as those contained in The Sun’s January 24, 2019 editorial, “Guns and the new Supreme Court.” It's hard to know where to begin. But let’s start with Baltimore and the assertion in the editorial that “Baltimore’s murder problem and its gun problem are essentially one in the same.” Rubbish.
The “problem” is not a “gun” problem, but a “criminal” problem created by persons who are overwhelmingly prohibited from possessing guns but who are nonetheless obtaining and using guns for violent crime. And, as the Sun itself has highlighted in prior articles, many of these criminals go unpunished. Guns are merely tools. Violent criminals are the “problem.” The answer to the “gun problem” lies in the use of existing state law that already severely punishes the use of guns in violent crime. That takes a States Attorney who is willing to prosecute and obtain convictions for these sorts of crimes. Maybe the States Attorney’s Office needs help in doing so.
Since 2013, when the General Assembly enacted some of the most severe gun control in the country, the murder rate and the violent crime rate in Baltimore has done nothing but gone up. But that 2013 legislation, misnamed as the Firearms Safety Act of 2013, has effectively prevented the law-abiding citizens from obtaining handguns to defend themselves from these criminal predators. In 2013, lawmakers promised us safety through gun control, yet in 2012 there were only 218 homicides in Baltimore. In 2017, there were 343 murders and in 2018, 309 murders. Baltimore, the largest city in a state whose lawmakers pride themselves on strict gun control laws, leads the entire United States in per capita homicides. Ordinary citizens are left to the tender mercies of criminals who care not an iota about gun control laws.
And nothing can be more telling about the failure of Maryland and Baltimore politicians to control criminals, than the fact that Johns Hopkins, home of the anti-gun Center for Gun Policy and Research, now seeks more guns to protect the campus. How ironic that a think-tank that tirelessly promotes gun control, that is funded in part by the gun-grabbing Michael Bloomberg, who is himself protected by armed guards wherever he goes, would protect its people by, wait for it, proposing that the answer to armed criminals is armed defense. That is acknowledgement that Maryland’s already-strict gun control laws are not working.
The editorial’s pogrom against lawful gun owners is exemplified by the Sun’s suggestion that allowing the law-abiding citizen to carry guns for their own self-protection would somehow represent a return to the “Wild West.” Yet, currently, 42 states and the District of Columbia allow citizens to carry outside the home with “shall issue” permits. The facts are universally accepted that persons with “shall issue” carry permits have a violent crime rate of a small fraction of the police. Such persons are literally the most law-abiding people in America. Yet, the violent crime rate in virtually all of those jurisdictions is less, sometimes far less, than that of Baltimore. It would appear that the “Wild West” is considerably safer.
The Sun does not take issue with the Supreme Court’s holding in Heller and McDonald that Second Amendment recognizes as fundamental the right of “the people” to keep and bear arms for their own self-defense. But, nothing in the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller or McDonald purports to limit the right of self-defense to the home. That odd notion has been rejected by every federal court of appeals decision to consider the issue, including three circuits (including the D.C. Circuit) which have squarely held that the right of self-defense is fully applicable outside the home. Every other circuit to have reached the issue, including the Fourth Circuit (which includes Maryland) has readily assumed the right of self-defense extends outside the home. Maybe the Sun should bone up on the case law before it opines on the reach of Heller and McDonald and the Second Amendment.
Not content with condemning lawful gun owners, the Sun then libels Justice Kavanaugh by suggesting that he and Justice Gorsuch would somehow “rewrite the Constitution” in the pending New York City case which the Court agreed to review this last Tuesday. Perhaps the Sun should take a look at the facts of that New York case before bemoaning the Court’s decision to consider it. The law at issue barred persons who were licensed to keep a gun at their home in the City from ever taking their licensed gun, unloaded and in a locked container, outside the City, for target practice, competitions or even to another home elsewhere in New York State. Instead, these persons were only permitted to visit one of seven firing ranges within the City (with a population of 8.5 million people). This sort of law is utterly irrational and, indeed, New York City never even attempted to make a case that such transport outside the City somehow created a risk to public safety. It is nothing less than gun control for the sake of mindless gun control. Perhaps the Sun would like to see a version of that law in Baltimore? Somehow, we doubt that it would make a smidgen’s worth of difference in the violence that pervades Baltimore.
Mark W. Pennak, President
Maryland Shall Issue, Inc.
1332 Cape St. Claire Road #342
Annapolis, MD 21409