Ban guns in city

October 21, 1991

Last week's House vote which rejected even an absurdly weak gun-control measure sent an unmistakable message to states and local communities: Don't count on Congress to stand up to the bullies of the NRA.

Certainly that was the lesson drawn some years ago by tiny Morton Grove, Ill., when it enacted a landmark law banning the sale or possession of firearms within its borders -- a prohibition which was ultimately sustained by the Supreme Court.

It's a lesson Baltimore also should now heed. We suggest that one of the first orders of business of the City Council when it reconvenes should be enactment of an across-the-board prohibition on the possession of all firearms and an absolute ban on the sale of guns and ammunition within the city limits.

The law should stipulate that people who presently own guns have a prescribed period in which to either sell them or store them safely outside the city, after which they would be subject to penalties of the law. Likewise, city gun shop owners would be given a reasonable grace period to either relocate or switch to another line of business.

Given the legislative gridlock in Congress, this may be the only hope for cities like Baltimore, where gun violence has risen to epidemic proportions. If federal lawmakers can't bring themselves to act, cities and towns that do not wish to see their streets turned into modern-day equivalents of Dodge City simply are going to have to stand up for themselves.

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