As I sat down to write today’s column, I heard the most amazing thing: Boccherini’s Cello Concerto No. 3 in G Major, the adagio, performed by Frederic Lodeon. So beautiful and tragic, it fit perfectly with how I felt — sweet air and sunshine in this strange winter/premature spring and horrible news from across the city of another boy gunned down in his 16th year.
Baltimore Sun’s editorial board presents a yet another smart reaction to the death of yet another teenage boy from gunfire in the city. I admire the writer’s discipline — that is, his or her ability to offer, in the institutional voice, informed opinions about what the city needs to do — and keep doing — to arrest the insane gun violence that continues month after month, year after year. This is the one subject where I feel I’ve said all that can be said. This is the one place where I feel I’ve been too long at the commentary grind.
My effort today goes well beyond direct commentary about this week’s front-page homicide to the thing I think about almost every day — how screwed-up the country is.
Most of the reader mail I receive on Baltimore is critical of the city leadership and the rate of shootings and homicides, the amount of drug abuse etc. But gun violence and drug addiction (and overdoses) throughout the country have soared since the 1980s. I agree: It’s awful, but what do you propose to do about it? What is the mayor failing to do, exactly?
The problem is the endless supply of guns, and guns so common that teenagers can easily get them. We have more guns than people in the United States. Last year, partnering with Bloomberg-funded Every Town For Gun Safety to track the flow of illegal guns into Baltimore, Mayor Brandon Scott reported that more than 60% of firearms seized by police were from outside Maryland while 82% were from outside the city. In other words, states with liberal gun laws are feeding Baltimore’s violence.
As gun laws became more liberal, with the full support of Supreme Court decisions that expanded 2nd Amendment rights, the country became more violent. Nearly 49,000 people were killed by guns (murders and suicides primarily) in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that’s considered a record for a single year.
Nearly 80% of U.S. murders involved a firearm, according to the Pew Research Center. States with the highest rates of gun deaths are Mississippi, Wyoming, Missouri and Alabama. Most of these deaths were preventable. That’s the insane part.
I’ve reported all this and written about it countless times. And little changes. Over time, I’ve become pessimistic that the country will ever break from its violent ways. We’ve accepted too much when it comes to guns and now we must live with it. Please pardon my pessimism. I wish I could say it is a temporary condition.
8 thoughts on “Pardon my pessimism”
First, like you, I hate guns and what they have done to our country. Second, your juxtaposition of the reference to the Boccherini is interesting.
I have long believed that if we required students in our elementary and middle schools to learn classical music, to learn to play the violin or flute or another instrument, that this would significantly impact crime. A different part of the brain is used to learn and to play classical music than the parts used to play basketball and to run around on the streets. Classical music teaches calmness, of which we have precious little. There are numerous stories about schools in tough neighborhoods where kids are exposed to classical music in this way and the graduation rates are near 100% and the kids go to college and succeed.
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Oh boy, Dan, are you ever right! There is no answer. We enabled the murderous activity through weak gun laws, an almost religious fear of the NRA for a good 50 years, and the PERMISSION given to every nut job and thug by our political naivete. It has culminated by the entrance of Donald Trump, whose lack of character has been ceaselessly parroted by anyone who thinks they have a gripe with what we call “the system”.
My only thought at 83 is that we simply have to outgrow it and that it will take generations. The leadership must come from those of the same ethnicity, color, religious or economic strata as the perpetrators in an unending drive for just plain decency…
We have enabled all of this. We need to take small but constant legislative steps, we need our “entertainment” community to discover value in producing scenarios that end in something called violence, and we need to build respect for ALL kinds of families.
It’s education we all need and want, and we further need to be more discerning about the quality of the educators we put in place…
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I agree with your entire piece and new to me was the fact that guns are coming from outside Baltimore & many outside MD. It’s a disgrace! How can anyone be pro gun?! I know, but it’s appalling. Thank you for fighting for my hometown for so many years.
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Dan, I forgot to add that my beloved nephew died Sunday. Unintentional oxy overdose, most likely. We don’t know everything. Results are pending. I will say that two detectives worked with my family on Sunday and provided lots of information. They think they may find this dealer after we searched the phone. His twin brother worked with the detectives moments after learning about it. We will never truly get over this.
I’m so sorry. That’s an awful thing for a family to go through. Where did it happen?
Baltimore County. I’ll leave it at that unless you want to talk. Thanks for your concern and keep reminding people how devastating guns and drugs are. This is the second time our family lost a son, however, not from drugs.
Dan, one thing I think that might help, would be the posting of the dollar amounts that all legislators receive from the NRA and the gun lobby. I realize this would be a large list, but if voters could see who was owned by gun interests, it may impact how they vote.
I’m sure a certain ink stained wretch can figure out how to make a large list go nationally viral.
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I’ve heard that there are 300 million firearms in circulation across these ‘United’ States! Those who possess them must assume total responsibility for their use! In my humble opinion there is only one solution and that comes from within each individual, I.e. respect each person as you yourself hope to be! In other words, one must have an inner core of spirituality that controls one’s behavior and is the essence of their persona! With only about 38% of our population having any religious beliefs, it’s difficult to envision how the current horrific statistics concerning the use of firearms to kill not just one’s adversaries but innocent human beings can even be diminished let alone abolished. How tragic!