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Maryland Politicians Fiddle While Baltimore Burns

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Politicians in Annapolis, Md., are set to enshrine another piece of anti-gun legislation into law this session. A bill to ban the lawful carrying of a concealed firearm seems poised to pass the legislature, though it remains to be seen what Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will do with the bill if it gets to his desk. What isn’t in doubt, however, is that far too many politicians in Maryland are still looking to restrict the right to keep and bear arms instead of getting tough on criminals.

Back in 2013, then-Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the “Maryland Firearms Safety Act” into law. The sweeping gun control bill sent gun manufacturers like Beretta looking for a friendlier state in which to manufacture firearms, while some FFLs and gun stores closed shop. Gun owners across the state were told some firearms were now off limits to them, along with some magazines. The law definitely had an impact across Maryland, it’s just that the people most affected weren’t committing a lot of violent crimes. While politicians in Annapolis were patting themselves on the back, cops in Baltimore have been overwhelmed with increasing violence. There have been more than 300 homicides per year for the last two years, and as of the end of January, Baltimore is averaging a murder per day.

Yes, a murder a day—yet the politicians in Annapolis are more concerned about the possibility of a concealed-carry licensee legally carrying on a college campus. Not a single college or university in the state actually allows for campus carry, but banning something that doesn’t happen is apparently more important than actually taking on the rising tide of violent crime in Charm City.

This disdain for the right of self-defense goes beyond Maryland’s gun laws. Stun guns, for instance, are simply banned for private purchase in the state, though one woman is trying to change that. Leah Elizabeth Baran is a survivor of physical and sexual assault, and the ex-boyfriend who’s now behind bars after being convicted of the horrific attack has promised to kill her if he’s ever released. Baran is a gun owner, and she’s applied for a concealed-carry license. Given Maryland’s restrictive policies on issuing concealed-carry permits, it’s entirely possible she’ll be rejected, but she’d also like to have the option of carrying a stun gun. She’s sued both Baltimore and Howard counties over their ban on the self-defense devices, and thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Caetano v. Massachusetts case, which held that the Second Amendment protects “bearable arms”—even those that weren’t in existence at the time the Second Amendment was ratified—she could have a chance. Yes, a murder a day—yet the politicians in Annapolis are more concerned about the possibility of a concealed-carry licensee legally carrying on a college campus.

Baran might win the day in court, but that process could take years. In the meantime, while the wheels of justice grind slowly forward, lawmakers in Annapolis need to ask themselves some serious questions. What benefit are these gun control laws really providing? Who’s responsible for the surge in homicides in Baltimore, and how many of them are well known to police and prosecutors alike? What can be done to target those responsible for these violent crimes, and what can be done to protect the victims before the crime ever occurs? What would happen if Baltimore didn’t just have a culture of lawless gun possession tied to the city’s thriving drug trade, but instead had a culture that promoted and celebrated responsible gun ownership?

Baltimore has plenty of problems, and lots of them will still be there even if the most far-reaching reforms of the state’s gun laws were enacted. But it would be a start, and most importantly, it would be the right thing to do. For decades Maryland politicians have tried to gun control their way out of their crime problem, and it doesn’t work. Instead, it’s time to try a little common sense when it comes to self-defense.

Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.

Article first appeared at NRA-ILA.

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