Reader JF writes:
The past week has been nothing short of disappointing, outrageous, and nerve-wracking here in Baltimore. Since Saturday, the city has fallen into spasms of disarray and chaos not seen here since the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The initial hesitant and restrained approach of policing ordered by the mayor only emboldened rioters and criminals. After all, they were being given “space to destroy.” . . .
Despite living in Baltimore for nearly my entirely life, I have never been as frightened and on-edge as I was on Monday evening. I work barely five minutes from where the riots began at Mondawmin Mall. My drive home takes me from the center of the city through east Baltimore. Not only did I need to leave work, but my wife is essential personnel at a major downtown hospital and I needed to take her back in for her shift. That meant nearly two hours of driving in and out of a deteriorating situation with no legal means of defending myself or my wife with a firearm.
For those who don’t know, Maryland is one of the few may-issue states when it comes to wear and carry permits. Residents must show that they have “good and substantial” reason to carry a handgun. Generally, that “G&S” is being someone who transports large amounts of “business currency.” Even then, most of the issued permits are restricted in that it only works if you’re within the bounds of what your G&S. Getting a permit as a jeweler and then using your permit to get groceries on the weekend would be outside of those restrictions.
Long gun open carry is also forbidden within Baltimore. The irony is that these restrictions were passed into Maryland law as a result of the riots in 1968. It’s an entirely subjective infringement that puts lives at risk, especially during a time where violence is as widespread and sporadic as it is now in Baltimore.
For myself, I had to resort to my folding Kershaw that goes where I go and a baseball bat that I keep in the car. When police were being injured by bricks and bottles and carjackings have been on an uptick, these aren’t the kind of items one wants to rely on (I’ve since added some other legal-to-carry items to the mix). Though I had to completely change my route home to avoid some areas where violence was increasing, my drive that night didn’t result in either of us getting hurt.
My stomach and nerves were very, very upset due to the unknown of what would happen to my wife at work or myself at home. That feeling has subsided somewhat since then, but my alertness is depressingly high. No one should have to feel like they’re going to face a group of thugs without any shred of regard for the lives of others, or the law all of the time, but that’s been the unfortunate truth for many here. Some places of the city are safer than others, but if it can happen at Camden Yards, it can happen anywhere.
Since the arrival of the National Guard and law enforcement from outside the city, things have not escalated to where they were on Monday afternoon and into Tuesday morning. However, this city has gone from pangs of ‘Escape from NY’ to ‘The Wire’ (Snake vs Omar…that’d be a show!).
While the CNN chopper hovered over North and Penn with only media in attendance after the curfew last night, Baltimore still suffered from the normal background level of crime. We’ve had at least 10 people shot in the last 36 hours in different parts of the city; many of those being chest and head shots. Assaults and robberies persist. Places where the National Guard are posted, like City Hall, the World Trade Center, Camden Yards, etc., have been quiet. Funny how it works when there’s numerous well-armed and well-meaning individuals, huh?
We still have a long way to go with the looming release of more information on the Freddie Gray case that sparked all of this. What’s worse is having the feeling that this city — no this country — may never be the same after this shakes out. Anxieties are running high by everyone here and those who wish to be able to defend themselves and their family will continue to do so at a mammoth disadvantage…until they don’t.