Baltimore has violent crime problem and that worries City Councilman Brandon Scott. “A small group of people, over and over, are terrorizing the citizens of this city,” Scott tells Fox News. “It’s something that we need to address now.” He’s been racking his brain to come up with new ways to fight crime, and now thinks he’s hit on an unorthodox way to reduce violence in Charm City: let accused criminals hand in their guns to make bail.
The proposal, reports the Baltimore Sun, is actually the brainchild of Trevor Brooks, “a convicted murderer who attended a Silicon Valley entrepreneurship program after getting out of prison.” Brooks has set up a company called GunBail.Com (join the Beta test here!) which advertises an app that facilitates the “surrender” of firearms.
I’d love to hear the Shark Tank pitch for that startup. “It’s like Netflix! In reverse! But for guns!”
This is how it’s supposed to work:
1. ADD GUN TO APP
Simply take a picture of the firearm from within the GunBail app, specify the inmate and his location, and pay the GunBail Shipping & Handling fee. We’ll send you a GunBail box and tell you where to drop off the firearm, all while granting amnesty during the process.
2. SHIP GUN
Safely pack the firearm, securing the trigger with the provided trigger lock, and just drop the GunBail box at a nearby facility. Once you’ve dropped your GunBail box at a drop-off location it’s recorded in our system as officially surrendered. We send all surrendered guns to local law enforcement authorities.
3. GUNS FOR BAIL
Once the firearm is surrendered it can take up to 3 days for local law enforcement to receive it. Once we’ve turned it over to them your loved one can post bail as early as 48 hours depending on the local law enforcement agency. Regardless the GunBail team is with you every step off the way to make sure your loved one gets released and illegal guns stay off the streets.
The program also seems to presuppose two other things: the guns are “illegal” (I suppose this means stolen? Unregistered with the Authorities?) and that the accused will show up in court at the appointed times even without the incentive of getting their bail money back. The GunBail FAQ also says that under its “amnesty agreement,” guns turned in through GunBail will NOT be subject to further investigation.
Questions submitted to Councilman Scott went unanswered at the time of writing, so it isn’t clear whether his resolution would simply approve the use of this GunBail program, or whether he was taking inspiration from the idea and running with it.
“I’ll give some credit for thinking outside the box, but it’s still a really bad idea,” says Paul Brockman, a gun rights activist and small business owner from the Baltimore area.
“Baltimore has a huge illegal firearm problem,” Brockman says, “because there is literally a revolving door of justice that releases violent criminals back on the streets…. Sending in a gun that might have been used in the crime that they are being charged for? Bad idea. Swapping thousands of dollars in bail for possibly a piece-of-junk? Bad idea.”
It’s unclear to me how this would impact crime rates…other than the fact that by giving people who were actually accused of crimes in the first place a chance to avoid being prosecuted for a firearms violation would probably lower the official rates without actually reducing violent crimes in the first place. And if that’s all that Baltimore wants to do, it might be better if it, and, indeed, the state of Maryland, repealed some of its more onerous gun control laws in the first place.