Unless Bill 96-20, the SMART Policing Act, is significantly amended, I will most likely be the only County Council member to vote No. The bill will be discussed on Sept. 29 and voted on Oct. 2.
If you remember, the first attempt at “police reform” legislation this summer was tabled by four members of the Council, including myself. The measures in that legislation were so cumbersome and unworkable that the bill was opposed by the Baltimore County Police Chief, the State’s Attorney, and the Fraternal Order of Police. I voted to table that bill in case it had any possibility of passage.
This week, my County Council colleagues voted for symbolic gun legislation designed and drafted by the County Executive’s team. Marketed as “crucial public safety legislation”, the Bill appeals to the anger, frustration, and grief we feel when gun violence hits our community. However, the Bill is deeply flawed and gives the County Executive and the Police Chief unchecked authority over the retail gun industry now, and in the future, by allowing these offices to regulate the firearm industry by adding more bureaucracy and unnecessary security costs, all resulting in higher costs for our locally owned gun shops to stay in business and in this county. The Bill also assumes that gun shops are the problem; the facts do not support this assumption. Gun shops are not the problem. Criminals are the problem.
I am not sure there are words enough to express our outrage and anger about the havoc that took place at Eastpoint Mall last night.
For the second year in a row, the traditional carnival was transformed into complete turmoil- costing you, the hard working taxpayer of Baltimore County- valuable police resources that could have and should have been free to be deployed elsewhere. Law enforcement officers were put in harm’s way, and the safety of the surrounding neighborhoods was threatened.