Sometimes, my job is just too easy. I mean, when you get handed a story like this one, the bloody thing practically writes itself. I mean, you gotta love it when a Baltimore mayoral candidate in September’s primary comes up with a plan to combat gun violence by slapping a $1 tax per bullet on ammo within the city. Um. Yeah. So how’s THAT gonna help? (Hint: Not one bit.) Furthermore…
You gotta give props to candidate Otis Rolley. I mean, talk about fearless. Politicians say some stupid things, but this one – this one is right up there with talking up the Great Pumpkin, right before the big student council election. Of course, that’s not his entire platform. He also wants to improve recruitment standards (hard to disagree with that one), work with the media to “increase awareness of wanted suspects” (?) and wants to “reduce the number of vacant properties.” (??)
Getting back to the bullets thing, Rolley claims that the ordinance would put a higher price tag on committing crime, and decrease “random firings that too often happen around the holidays.” Um. Yeah. Last time I looked at a map, Baltimore wasn’t too far from a bunch of other places – say, Annapolis, Rockville, D.C., and Lancaster – that have no bullet tax. Don’t you think, just maybe, the only effect your law will have is to kill your tax revenues on ammo completely, as people vote with their feet and travel out of the city to buy ammo?
In the South, we suffered from a case of arrested development for years, under the so-called “Blue Laws,” which forbade liquor sales on Sundays (along with a long list of equally-bizarre items), and a history that allowed a complete ban on liquor sales with the so-called “local option.” As a result, you can have a “dry” area and 50 feet away, find a bunch of liquor stores.
Wanna drink in Lubbock? You have to go just outside the city limits, but when you do, you’ll find a string of booze shops as far as a couple of city blocks, each doing a land-office business in booze. The result of the law? It has not decreased drinking within Lubbock one whit. But all that tax revenue left the city and headed South. A bullet tax would have the same effect, or lack thereof. No decrease in violence, but a dramatic drop in tax revenues on ammo. Genius.
Not being from ’round those parts, I called a buddy of mine in Maryland to get the 411 on the Mayoral candidates. He’d never heard of Mr. Rolley. Apparently, he’s a former director of city planning. He’s up against a city councilman, the circuit court clerk, an independent candidate, and the president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors. I’ve no idea either of the ethnic demographics in Baltimore.
From what I’ve read, it has a predominantly black population. Only one of the candidates (the realtor) is Anglo, while the rest of the declared field is black. But I am aware that Baltimore has huge problems with murder, gang violence, rape and gun crimes. What’s sad is that I suspect most of the candidates buy into the idea that if only they could find some way to get rid of all the guns, they’d get rid of all the violence.
Will Rolley’s bullet tax hit its target? Too soon to tell. He’s got to win first. But if it is enacted, and the only effect in Baltimore is to see tax revenues for ammunition plummet, don’t be surprised when I say “I told you so.”