Baltimore residents recently made an honorable attempt at getting the city’s murder problem under control—a “Murder Free Weekend” sponsored by activists who want to see fewer people killed every day on the streets of what was once a safe and vibrant place to live. Erricka Bridgeford took on a herculean task in creating a movement called the Baltimore Ceasefire, aimed at trying to stop people steeped in a culture of violence from acting out the machinations piped into their ears through music, the impetus to kill driven into them by circumstances wrought for them and of their own choosing. It’s a great idea: Ask for a moratorium on violence, and then use that successful weekend as a basis to build upon. Her heart is in the right place, so why didn’t it work? Why didn’t criminals take a weekend off from killing people?
Problem is, the attention is put entirely on “stopping gun violence,” which is a misnomer. Who is committing these acts of violence? It takes a human to pull the trigger, and malice aforethought before that.
Problem is, the attention is put entirely on “stopping gun violence,” which is a misnomer.So what is the solution? In truth, it’s multifaceted, and starts in the homes of Baltimore residents. I believe that until there is an uptick in the number of children living in intact homes, the murder rate likely won’t subside.
This is a supremely unpopular opinion with everyone closest to the problems facing big cities like Baltimore, but history shows that there was less crime when the government wasn’t acting as the father in the home by providing financial assistance only if there is no dad. To add insult to injury, you see a wholesale refusal to require minimum standards that used to be taken for granted, no matter what your station in life. Speaking improperly was simply not tolerated; teachers corrected, students learned, everyone spoke English. Now we glorify the use of bad English, we glorify it by calling it a “cultural norm,” we offer obeisance to mediocrity by giving poor English it’s own name, “Ebonics.”
At this point, those responsible for normalizing the idea that black people are incapable of learning and speaking good English deflect to their hobby horse of choice—the gun. Big, black, evil scary looking “assault” style weapons are to blame for all of this crime, don’t ya know?! Just accept that once they have taken all of the guns off of the streets, crime will abate, Unicorns will appear, and the only guns visible will be of the biceps and triceps variety!
Oh, if only these lofty dreams could come true! If they were ever going to, though, they would have in other cities with strict gun control, like Washington, D.C., where it’s illegal to have an empty shell casing in your purse. Or like Chicago, with the highest number of murders for a U.S. city, where law-abiding residents have almost given up on carrying a gun for self-defense because the approval process is so ridiculous.
Just accept that once they have taken all of the guns off of the streets, crime will abate, Unicorns will appear, and the only guns visible will be of the biceps and triceps variety!Truth is, if gun removal could work, if more gun laws could work, if simply pasting up signs that say “no guns allowed” could work, they already would have. This realization leads us back to the family, back to a bevy of solutions that stretch beyond a “movement,” beyond launching a Facebook page, past “marching” and “making them listen.” It takes years to turn neighborhoods around, one family at a time, but it can be done.
My hope is that activists, including Erricka Bridgeford, will embrace a holistic approach to solving the problems facing Baltimore. Instead of railing against a justice system that isn’t jailing enough people who commit crimes, the community must come together to care for families in crisis. The crisis is outsized with 72 percent of black children born into single-family homes. But as the proverb says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Lowering the crime rate in Baltimore, or any city for that matter, isn’t going to happen through another movement concentrated on guns. But I believe it could happen with clear focus on one root cause of the actual problem—the disintegration of the family unit.
Stacy Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran, Emmy-nominated TV personality and host of nationally syndicated radio program “Stacy on the Right,” based in St. Louis. She loves God, guns, and is a member of the NRA, obviously.