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News Opinion

Why is O'Malley only now pushing gun control?

In response to the Sandy Hook shootings and the resulting uproar on weapons control, Gov. Martin O'Malley finally proposes legislation limiting the availability of guns purchased by the public and promises to allocate funds for increased safety in schools ("O'Malley to push stricter gun limits," Jan. 15).

"Finally"? Yes finally, because the issue of guns and homicide remains far from a novel issue for citizens in Maryland, especially for those citizens of Baltimore City. The FBI's Uniform Crime Report showed 27,808 violent crimes reported in Maryland's metropolitan statistical areas in 2011, with 391 of these crimes labeled murder or non-negligent manslaughter. Within Baltimore, 196 homicides occurred, or approximately 31 murders per 100,000 people.

With crime and murder rates so high, why is the implementation of gun control laws only now occurring? It shouldn't take a horrifying school shooting in Connecticut and both public and political upset to begin implementing such safety precautions.

Even more troubling to the parents living in Baltimore should be the high homicide rates of children 1-17 years of age. A Baltimore City Health Department report states that children were twice as likely to die in Baltimore as compared to the nation and that 49 percent of child deaths are classified as homicides. Of the homicides reported, 65.5 percent of them resulted from gunshot wounds. The child fatality statistics reported here were released in 2008 and analyzed data from the years 2002-2006. Crime against youth clearly is not a novel issue.

It also remains interesting to note that Governor O'Malley was the mayor of Baltimore during this time period, suggesting he is not ignorant of the problem. Mr. O'Malley's new push for school safety and gun control in Maryland stands a bit overdue, occurring only now after five years as governor. Perhaps his renewed action stems from a fear of potential political backlash in continuing to overlook the issue after Sandy Hook evokes such public scrutiny.

Alicia Norton, Columbia

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