If policymakers want to reduce the number of murders in Baltimore, they would be advised to target criminals rather than law-abiding gun owners.
“Clearly neither the victims nor perpetrators of murders are ‘normal’ people — both groups are overwhelmingly criminals,” says Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., in a new analysis from the Crime Prevention Research Center. “Homicides in Baltimore largely involve criminals killing criminals.”
According to the study, 82 percent of murder victims in Baltimore had a criminal record, and the average victim had been arrested 10.8 times. Just over four of those arrests were for drug offenses, and 67 percent had at least one arrest record for drugs. Forty-four percent had an arrest record for gun crimes, and 29 percent of victims were clearly known by the police to be members of “drug crews or gang” members.
Among those arrested on suspicion of murder, 81 percent had a criminal record. Lott notes, however, that because only 31 percent of murder investigations in Baltimore end with an arrest, the true percentage of murderers with criminal records is likely much higher.
Baltimore isn’t alone. In cities across the country, victims of crime are frequently enmeshed in the criminal networks by which they are victimized. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, “The persistent link between offending and victimization is one of the most robust empirical findings in criminological research.”
In addition, gang members are responsible for a high percentage of violent crime in most jurisdictions.
According to the FBI’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, gang members account for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Texas report that gangs account for 90 percent of all violent crime.
Street gangs engage in a “host” of violent criminal activities, including assault, drug trafficking, extortion, firearms offenses, home invasion robberies, homicide, intimidation, shootings, and weapons trafficking.
Baltimore’s clear inability to contain its criminal element hasn’t stopped city officials from blaming the gun industry for their own incompetence. Baltimore officials announced in November of last year that they’re considering bringing a lawsuit against gun makers if the lawsuit against Remington by Sandy Hook families is successful.
After the Supreme Court allowed the Sandy Hook suit to move forward, Baltimore Solicitor Andre Davis said gun manufacturers should be held accountable for the hundreds of homicides that take place in the city.
“That decision by the court of appeals a couple of weeks ago was a breakthrough because Congress has created immunity for these gun manufacturers that, up until now, has been impenetrable and this recent decision is the first small crack in the wall and we will continue to monitor it,” Davis said.