Baltimore Sun Letter: Baltimore awash in guns

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I applaud The Baltimore Sun’s editorial, “More gun carnage” (Sept. 7), and Dan Rodricks’ column, “Not even soft breezes stop the gunfire” (Sept. 7). Mr. Rodricks’ words ring all too true. I spent Memorial Day weekend with Cynthia Bruce.

Last July, Ms. Bruce’s son Marcus was shot 19 times steps from his grandmother’s Baltimore rowhome. Although Ms. Bruce feared that Baltimore was too dangerous for a young black man and moved the family to a more rural setting, Marcus claimed that the street where his aunt and cousins still lived was his safe haven. He was killed in broad daylight on that street 11 days after his 23rd birthday.

Like so many Baltimore mothers, Ms. Bruce feared the approach of warm weather. Summer in Baltimore (or Chicago, or most other large cities) is synonymous with murder.

Those of us who equate summer with vacations and trips to the pool must not stand by and simply wring our hands as we read about our neighbors being shot. There are solutions, as noted in the editorial, which also highlights another important factor: the gun violence in Maryland is not a reflection on the ineffective nature of laws. It is merely a reflection on the fact that our borders are porous and guns can and do come from neighboring states.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research has demonstrated that legislation works. Connecticut’s adoption of handgun fingerprint licensing reduced firearm homicide rates by 40 percent. When Missouri repealed a similar law, firearm homicides increased by 25 percent. I’m proud to live in Maryland where courageous politicians like Rep. Chris Van Hollen not only understand the importance of handgun permit-to-purchase licensing laws but have also introduced bills calling for one at the federal level.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, but I urge you to consider the importance and effectiveness of simple measures that have been taken in this country, and work with me and the Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence Education Fund to expand common sense gun legislation.

Elizabeth Banach, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.