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Reduce city homicides by taking guns off the street | READER COMMENTARY

These are the guns that were confiscated during a drug bust in Baltimore this past summer. (Staff/Baltimore Sun).
These are the guns that were confiscated during a drug bust in Baltimore this past summer. (Staff/Baltimore Sun). (Handout)

Again, one reads the same clichés about the causes for the ever-expanding homicide numbers Baltimore is experiencing (”300 and counting: Baltimore’s appalling homicide tally, now routine, requires more than the usual response,” Nov. 18). Commissioner Michael Harrison laid it on with a trowel when he stated that to reduce homicides the numbingly repeated root causes of poverty, drug addiction and mental illness have to be addressed.

Before blaming the poor, those who are addicted to drugs or who are mentally ill or any other root cause that he thinks can explain the motivation to kill, I would respectfully recommend, the commissioner tell the good people of Baltimore what his agency can and can’t do to attack the common vector for the murders — the guns. Given the constraints of policing in a free society, what can the city police department legally do to get the shooters before they shoot? Or has that proactive thinking been laid to rest?

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I suggested in a commentary published by The Sun over two years ago that an anonymous tip hand gun bounty be initiated similar to the one the late Commissioner Donald Pomerleau authorized in 1974 (”Could handgun ‘bounty’ get guns off Baltimore streets? It has before,” Nov. 21, 2019). I also suggested the Supreme Court decision in Florida v. J.L. in 2000 is worth reviewing to give food for thought in creating a possible stop-and-frisk policy based on sound legal grounds as outlined in the that case and the protocols of the 1974 tip program. My suggestion was for the tip to be worth a $1,000, which would help aid the poverty-stricken Baltimorean who may want to turn in gun carrier instead of shooting someone.

But I guess progress can be seen in the fact that only 86% of the 306 homicides this year were by the gun, as compared to 2020 when 89% of the 335 homicides were by the gun. But the year isn’t over yet.

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Jim Giza, Baltimore

The writer is a retired Baltimore Police Department sergeant.

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