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Yes, guns are to blame for Baltimore homicides | READER COMMENTARY

No trigger, no gun deaths

A recent letter in the Sun (”Don’t blame guns for city’s high homicide rate,“Dec. 20) states that even though Wyoming and Montana have high rates of gun ownership, they have low rates of homicide deaths. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to public databases, in 2019, the firearm death rate per 100,000 population in the U.S. was 11.9, but rates in Montana, at 19.0, and Wyoming, at 22.3, were well above average.

It is also known that 60% of adult firearm deaths are by suicide. In 2018, the gun suicide rate in the U.S. was 7.01 per 100,000 population. Wyoming ranked 2nd highest with a rate of 18.69, and Montana was tied for 3rd with a rate of 15.66.

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Before COVID, I visited Japan, a country with a private gun ownership rate of 0.3 guns per capita compared to a rate of 120.5 in the U.S. Not surprisingly, in 2020, there were 17 gun-related deaths in Japan, a country of 125 million, compared to over 300 deaths every year in Baltimore, a city with a population of 600,000.

Guns do kill people. Without a trigger to pull, there would be no gun-related deaths.

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Frona Brown, Pikesville

This is not time to stick our heads in the sand

Shrugging off Baltimore’s gun problem is not an option when confronting the devastating homicide toll in Baltimore (“Don’t blame guns for city’s high homicide rate,” Dec. 20). In The Baltimore Sun’s own database for 2021, 282 out of the 327 homicides to date were caused by shootings. Analysis of FBI data by Everytown for Gun Safety shows an average 88% of Baltimore homicides from 2016-2020 were by gun.

There are solutions to gun violence based on evidence and research. They focus on commitment to healing people and families, to addressing economic and housing disparities and to showing residents ways of resolving differences peacefully. These solutions haven’t been a consistent part of past city leadership, but are now being put into place.

But there are individuals and organizations that do that work every day. There has been progress to committing serious funding to community-based violence intervention, youth support and community healing through the American Rescue Plan Act. The money needs to get to the people who are doing this hard work quickly and with oversight and guidance to make it effective.

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And what about the guns? The Baltimore Police Department is deploying new data tools to trace and find suppliers of illegal guns. There’s legislation in Annapolis being brought up again on limiting ghost guns — untraceable, unserialized kits that don’t require background checks. Police reform, designed to restore trust in law enforcement, was set in motion by the consent decree and by the work of last year’s state legislature. And, on the federal level, the Senate should pass the Bi-Partisan Background Check bill that would make it difficult for gun traffickers to obtain guns to bring into our city.

In a city deeply affected by violence and the resulting trauma, there’s no way to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. But there are ways to tackle gun violence, by acknowledging the sources of the problems and facing them with focused funding and with specific legislation. This is no time to stick our heads in the sand and pretend guns are not a problem. If anything, it is time to ramp up all these efforts and move more quickly. Pick an action with a local group or by contacting your local, state or federal legislator — but do something.

Elaine Arndt, Baltimore

Guns escalate the danger of a fight

I am very sorry that Mr. Dudley Thompson hadn’t given more thought to history and to adolescent psychology before he wrote his Dec. 20 letter (”Don’t blame guns for city’s high homicide rate,” Dec. 20). Young people get angry, and we have to remember brain research says 24- or 25-year-olds may still be developing their frontal cortex, which helps them think through consequences. But in the British Isles they tend to use broken bottles and knives, which often do not kill. In our own history, fistfights and probably knifings were common ways to “get even.”

I therefore continue to be convinced that the proliferation of guns, especially in cities, especially handguns, not those hunters in Montana and Wyoming most often use, are responsible for exploding anger and/or revenge fights ending in death.

Marilyn Carlisle, Baltimore

‘The trigger pulls the finger’

Letter-writer Dudley Thompson has it all wrong when he says “People, not guns, kill people, and the killing will never stop until we are able to stop the urge to kill.” (“Don’t blame guns for city’s high homicide rate” Dec. 20).

Contrary to Mr. Thompson’s remark, I would offer the great psychologist Carl Jung’s counter-intuitive assertion that “the trigger pulls the finger,” by which he meant that every technology, however inanimate, invites its use, and sadly, its abuse. And guns are no exception.

So while we’re trying to figure out where the “urge to kill” comes from, and what to do about it, it is absurd that we continue to allow the proliferation of guns to ravage our society because of ineffective gun control.

Howard Bluth, Baltimore

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