It's what killed James Smith, the 3-year-old boy shot in a Southwest Baltimore barbershop on that winter day in 1997.
Does it make any of us feel better to know what percentage of Baltimore's killings - across all those 200-plus years - stemmed from the drug trade? Do the details make a difference?
We are living through an epoch of violence that diminishes us all, a staggering loss of human life - a waste - over many years.
It hurts to contemplate it.
But the most daunting challenge of all is having hope.
Hope was the thing John Darda's partners had when they opened City Cafe in 1994. It was an act of hope for Darda to join the business a year later.
By several measures, the city is safer than it was back then. There's more money going into drug treatment. There's more vigor coming from City Hall, new crime-fighting strategies coming from police headquarters.
There are good reasons to keep hope alive for a better Baltimore.
It just seems so hard to get there, such a long, long way to go.