BALTIMORE — On Wednesday, city council members and other city leaders met to discuss ways to help with the problem of gun violence in Baltimore City.
So far this year there have been 230 gun arrests in Baltimore City. Last year, there were more than 1,400 gun arrest. It's why city leaders like Councilman Robert Stokes, who represents the 12th district said he believes the city should create a gun court to speed up the process of prosecuting people for gun charges.
“85 percent of murders that are committed in the city are done by perpetrators using these illegal guns. The idea of the gun court is a speedier process, and it has four mechanisms. Expediting the case disposition of gun related offenses, better tracking gun related cases and offenders, making the punishment of those gun related crimes more consistent, and if done correctly, this process should be able to turn perpetrators from using firearms,” Stokes said.
Stokes introduced a potential bill today at an informational hearing in front of the states attorney’s office, BPD leaders and other city officials, aimed at holding gun offenders accountable.
Many of his constituents were in favor of the idea of a gun court, cities like Brooklyn and Philadelphia already have one. In the hearing today however there was push back from some organizations like the State Attorney’s Office.
Deputy States Attorney Janice Bledsoe believes creating this type of court could be especially challenging when trying to figure out which cases will be prosecuted there, considering people charged for illegal possession of guns could be tied to other serious charges as well.
“The gun crimes you have to remember can be dependent on the lead charge. So you could have let’s say a rape and the weapon used was a gun, the lead charge is the rape, the method of force is the gun but that would go to the special victims unit," Bledsoe said. "If you set up a gun court you have to define what types of crimes because you may have a situation where you have a murder in which a gun was used and you wouldn’t want that to go to gun court, you want that to go to a regular jury trial. So I think one of the nuances about gun cases is how does the gun charge fit in with the entire case."
Still many questions to be answered and more details to be worked out, Stokes however said he just wants to see cases get cleared faster and safer communities for all.
“We have to address the violence in Baltimore City,” Stokes said.