My weekend Sun column is a throwback to something I tried before with some success — an open letter to the unnamed individuals engaged in criminality in my adopted hometown of Baltimore. In 2005, it was a “Dear Drug Dealers” letter, asking people selling narcotics to put down the guns they used to protect commerce. We stopped counting at 6,500 and the final number might have been more than 7,000 — that’s the number of people formerly incarcerated for selling drugs, or who were still selling drugs, who took up my offer of help in finding a job or a re-entry program to prepare them for jobs. The experience opened my eyes to the challenges ex-offenders faced trying to go straight after prison. I met and spoke with hundreds of them over the next three years.

We’re in a different place now. Gone are the days when we assumed that most of the gun violence in Baltimore was related to drug trafficking. By now there are so many guns available and such a rooted culture of violence — so many young men using guns to settle scores, end arguments, defend their macho image or even imitate the glam violence they see in music videos — that there seems to be no way for cops, for instance, to prevent it. (The Scott administration’s violence intervention program and Safe Streets are the best hopes for that.) So my new appeal to “Baltimore Guys With Guns” to consider a new life might seem like a waste of time, space and words. But you never know. Someone might read it — someone already thinking about “getting out of the game” — and a phrase here or there in a newspaper column might push them. We shall see.

4 thoughts on “An open letter to Baltimore guys with guns

  1. If anyone could convince people to put down their guns, it would be you Dan. We can only hope and pray something will wake up people with guns.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll never understand guns and the reasons for having them. Way too many innocents are caught up in gun wars and paying with their lives. Whats wrong with changing the second amendmant to put restrictions on automatic weapons, background checks, etc…Most people want this. The Brady Campaign is a good place to begin.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the approach, and I’m glad you don’t use the old cop saw of “bad guys with guns” because that is so incendiary, and frankly insulting. American culture is thick with a history of easy access to guns and their indiscriminate use. Give people options, open their eyes, make them think about “getting out of the game.” Self-defense is one thing, but if a person’s regular routine is to strap on a concealed gun simply because “what if,” then they might want to examine their life choices. Write on, Dan. You have a gift and the world benefits from it.

    Liked by 1 person

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