The Baltimore City School Board held a meeting this week where they were scheduled to vote on a new proposal. The meeting came in response to a new Maryland bill currently being considered in the legislature that would expand the ability of security guards in schools to be armed. Given the epidemic of gang violence and gun crimes in Charm City over the past decade, combined with all of the high profile school shootings that have been in the news, you might think this would be an easy call.
And it apparently was an easy call. The school board voted unanimously, 10-0 to reject the idea of armed guards. (CBS Baltimore)
Baltimore City Schools unanimously agreed Tuesday night they do not want to see school officers armed on school grounds any time soon.
The decision comes after a heated school board meeting where the public got their chance to weigh in on the issue.
A coalition of students took charge of Tuesday night’s meeting, expressing their reasons for not wanting House Bill 31, which, if it had been approved, would have paved the way for arming school officers.
“I’ve never known of a police officer in my lifetime who doesn’t have all the tools of the trade,” said Leo Burroughs, of Baltimore.
The local news coverage of this meeting depicts a chaotic scene. Not only parents, but a coalition of students took over the meeting with chanting and shouting. It was a total mess.
Now that they’ve rejected the idea of armed guards, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, the “good news” about Baltimore’s murder rate in 2018 was that it was down slightly. The bad news is that “down slightly” still added up to more than 300 murders, the highest per capita rate of any American city with more than 500K residents, and far more killings than New York City had. Gang violence is endemic, with much of the early gang recruiting taking place in schools.
Further, there have been numerous stories coming out of Baltimore schools about students literally beating up teachers, sometimes to the point of hospitalizing them. These are not only not safe environments for children. They’re unsafe for adults.
This rejection of armed guards is of a piece with what the municipal government has been doing. Every time the city of Baltimore has considered tougher laws for first-time gun crime offenders, they’ve declined to take action. They’ve also supported some of the strictest gun control laws, primarily impacting only lawful gun owners. At times it’s seemed as if the leadership in Baltimore wants to make sure that nobody in their city has a gun except for the gang bangers.
We can’t simply give up on an entire city and walk away. And to be sure, there are community activists out there who have been diligently working to curb the violence and the killings. But they can’t do it alone. The city government and the school board need to wake up and realize that their city is dying before their eyes, both figuratively and literally.