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The Baltimore Sun reported today that 217 people were killed in Baltimore City in 2012, up from 197 killed in 2011. Most of these people were killed by guns, although most categories of gun violence declined.
Two days in August helped illustrate the obstacles police face in reducing violence. On Aug. 16, gunmen shot brothers Troy and Euclides Manley and ransacked their Southwest Baltimore home. As detectives worked to identify and apprehend the killers, the cycle of retribution was already in motion: The next night, the mother and brother of a suspect were killed outside their home
For the year, more than 60 percent of those who died in shootings were shot in the head, which experts say points to a high number of execution-style killings. That's the highest percentage in 10 years' worth of Police Department data.
Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said the number of homicides was up largely because the city was the stage for two violent gang wars that were fueled by targeted attacks meant to kill, as opposed to unplanned bursts of gunfire that might have left victims wounded but alive. "Those gangs were shooting each other in the head. They were assassinating each other," Batts said. . . . Batts attributed the increase in violence to warring gangs, saying that the prison-based Black Guerrilla Family was extorting other gangs, leading to a turf war between the BGF and the Bloods. But it was unclear how many shootings were gang-related.
The Sun reported that gun violence was actually down 6 percent, but gang slayings increased the number of gun caused homicides.
So many neighborhoods of my city are marked by horrible slums, with many of the row houses boarded up. In this environment of extreme poverty, unemployment, third rate schools, and drug infestation, society gives up on these fatherless children the moment they are born. Gangs represent the only life they will know, and the easy access to guns ensures their lives will be short. But few care, they are poor and black. And we must not limit our precious Second Amendment "rights" to guarantee that every one of these children gets a gun.
Originally posted to Maryland Kos on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 05:19 PM PST.