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“Ceasefire Maryland” Shooting Blanks

Friday, September 8, 2006

Historically, the state of Maryland has had higher murder rates than the nation as a whole, and for quite a few years it has had a handful of very aggressive gun control supporters.  So in 1994, when the now-defunct federal “assault weapon” ban was imposed, Maryland’s state government--dominated by anti-gunners at the time--additionally imposed a statewide “assault pistol” ban, a “large” magazine restriction, a seven-day waiting period on “assault weapon” sales, and a law limiting “assault weapon” sales to dealers in “Regulated Firearms.”

At the time, Maryland’s murder rate was 29% higher than the national rate. Since then, the federal ban, federal and many states’ waiting periods on gun sales, and numerous other gun control laws have expired or been rescinded, but Maryland has increased its gun control restrictions.  And, Maryland’s murder rate is 71% higher than the national rate.  More gun control, more murder.

The solution?  If you are CeaseFire Maryland, a Brady Campaign offshoot in “The Free State,” it is more gun control.  CeaseFire recently came out with a paper claiming that an “assault weapon” is “traced to a crime” once every 48 hours in Maryland.

The paper is nonsense, for a number of reasons.  First, it is based entirely upon old BATF firearm tracing data, which the Congressional Research Service and other researchers have pointed out are unsuitable for drawing conclusions about the kinds of guns used to commit violent crimes. Most guns that are traced have never been used to commit a violent crime, and most guns that are used to commit violent crimes are never traced.  CeaseFire conspicuously fails to mention that most of the “assault weapons” traced in Maryland had nothing to do with violent crimes.

In addition, CeaseFire used the Violence Policy Center (VPC) approach to defining “assault weapon,” including all guns defined as such in the defunct federal ban, all guns defined as “assault pistols” in Maryland, plus the M1 Carbine, Ruger Mini-14, and SKS.  Not only that, but like VPC, CeaseFire categorized a gun as an “assault weapon” even if it did not meet the old federal definition, due to not having attachments like flash suppressors, folding stocks, and bayonet mounts.  Pathetically, CeaseFire also refers to all of these guns as “assault rifles,” to misleadingly suggest that they are machine guns.

Finally, CeaseFire does not say how many violent crimes have been committed with “assault weapons,” or whether in any such crimes the type of gun involved was relevant.  It mentions the Muhammad/Malvo “sniper” killings in the Washington, D.C.-area several years ago, without noting that in each crime only one shot was fired, which could have been accomplished with any firearm.

In trying to make a case for more gun control, CeaseFire has its work cut out for it.  Despite having much more gun control than most states, Maryland’s murder rate is higher, compared to the rest of the country, than it ever has been.  And while the U.S. rate has been steady the last five years, Maryland’s has risen 16%.

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