Baltimore is said to be the most lethal city in the US. The numbers of homicides are extremely high compared to the nearby cities. In the year 2015 alone, Baltimore city reported a total number of 344 homicides cases which became the second highest ever recorded since 353 cases of 1993 (The Baltimore Sun, 2017). Mostly, young black citizens are involved in this violence. Civil unrest and rioting that occurred in April of 2015 contributed to the increased number of killings in that year. Most of the homicides occurring in Baltimore are as a result of shootings. The ones being normally shot are young boys and men between the ages of 18 and 30 (Rector, 2016). According to the civil rights activists, these groups youth aged between 18 and 30, are always seeking for employment opportunities but always caught up with the violent drug trade. Drugs and gun violence in Baltimore go hand in hand. Since the rates of violence are skyrocketing in the city of Baltimore; poverty, unemployment, several guns in the wrongs hands, and lack of opportunities for youth, are the leading causes of violence in the city.
Although experts assert that, there is no reason for the upsurge in violence, criminologists may take decades to establish, but one reason could be the fact that many people are carrying guns. City Police Commissioner in Baltimore, Kevin Davis believes that more guns got into the hands of civilians aftermath of the civil unrest in 2015 (Rector, 2016). People feared for their lives and had to seek for alternative ways to fasten their security. It was even much worse when a suspect by the name Freddie Gray lost his life in police custody under unclear circumstances (Rector, 2016). Several questions arose, and the public was not satisfied with the police explanations on the cause of death. People were then compelled to carry a gun to protect themselves. It is always known that carrying a weapon is a strong sign that the arms will be ultimately be used to commit an offense. It is also believed that there are over 300 thousand weapons in circulation in America and it may be hard to establish the number of guns in circulation in the streets of Baltimore alone. Even with the increased illegal guns seizures and arrest, it has not been effective in keeping the bad people off the streets of Baltimore. With such a big number of weapons on the street, chances are gun violence will increase.
Another major problem that seems to promote drugs and guns violence in Baltimore is the abject poverty and unemployment for the cities less privileged communities (Webster, 2012). Law enforcement alone cannot solve the menace in the city. People have challenges regarding income and living standards. Others have the feeling that they are marginalized by the city administration. Besides, poverty always leads the children born within the disadvantaged communities not to achieve a good education. In return, these children miss the job opportunities. Frustration and depressions arising from futile job seeking mission land them in crime and drug abuse. In most occasions, it has been realized that large percentage of the victims of violence are affluent individuals. For instance, the latest killings in Baltimore involved the death of former basketball player (Webster, 2012). Evidently, apart from the killings at times being racial, it has close connections with living standards. Other indicators of poverty and lack of employment as the cause of drugs and guns violence are the fact that during the unrest in the city, lootings normally occurs. People take advantages to loot from pharmacies, departmental stores, and supermarkets.
In addition, it is apparent that there is a large and thriving illegal drug economy in the city. The effects of such economy in a city that houses some less privileged communities cannot be underestimated. Drug economy funds and drives all sorts of offense in the city ranging from petty theft to murder (Webster, 2013). Drug addicts are willing to do anything to get their daily dose regardless of what the law stipulates. Similarly, social and economic factors attract many individuals, mostly the youth from low-income families into these lucrative but dangerous economies. The easy and quick money is hard to resist for youth who have seen years of abject poverty. Bearing in mind the adverse effects of illegal drugs, drug users mostly find themselves in the wrong arm of the law (Webster, 2013). Drugs impair one brain leading to irrational judgments and consequently delinquent behaviors. What needs to be done here is not only treating the addicted ones but also building strong communities. Strong communities result from providing better housing, schools, and job training. Youth with skills can easily be employed and avoid the trap into drugs and drug abuse.
Therefore, it is evident that factors leading to soaring cases of drug and gun violence in Baltimore are hard to pinpoint. However, some possible factors seem to contribute to the case. One is the truth that several guns are in circulation and the wrong hands. Another depressing issue is poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunities for the youthful generation that compels youth to indulge in deliquescent behaviors. Lastly, is the thriving illegal drug economy. Unemployed youth can get quick and easy money from illegal drugs. Hence, considering these facts and finding necessary solutions could reduce the violence in Baltimore.
Kevin, Rector, (2016). Deadliest year in Baltimore history ends with 344 homicides: The Baltimore Sun; Retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-deadliest-year-20160101-story.html
Baltimores Gun Violence Paradox (2017).: The Journal of The Baltimore Sun; retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-guns-20160730-story.html
Webster, D. W., Whitehill, J. M., Vernick, J. S., & Curriero, F. C. (2013). Effects of Baltimores Safe Streets Program on gun violence: A replication of Chicagos CeaseFire Program. Journal of Urban Health, 90(1), 27-40.
Webster, D. W., Whitehill, J. M., Vernick, J. S., & Parker, E. M. (2012). Evaluation of Baltimores Safe Streets program: effects on attitudes, participants experiences, and gun violence. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
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