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Inside Story Americas

Gangs and guns in America's inner cities

We travel to Baltimore to meet those trying to stop gun crime and others who say owning a gun is a matter of survival.
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2013 09:35
Guns, Culture and Crime in the US - in a special three-part series, Inside Story Americas takes the debate on gun control to the American people. Are they as divided as their politicians?

The Newtown shooting in December, which left 20 school children and six teachers dead, has dragged the issue of gun control back into the national agenda.

"If you had to break it down [why inner cities youths get guns], a quarter of it is for drugs, a quarter for gangs … fifty percent in general would be for survival, because you know there are a lot of wolves in your city and you refuse to be that one sheep that just gets taken for everything. So, you know in your heart you’re a good guy, and you don’t intend on hurting anybody, but the next man may hurt you - you're gonna get a gun. "

- Sean Hawkins, a former Baltimore gang member

For the first time in years, US politicians are discussing serious gun control measures.

But millions of people in the country's inner cities live with the threat of gun violence on a daily basis.

In Baltimore, one of the most dangerous cities in the US, the police have reframed their 'war on drugs' as a 'war on guns'.

Maryland has some of the toughest gun laws in the US, and Baltimore's are even stricter, but the city continues to struggle with rampant gun violence as thousands of people gain access to firearms.

The city had 217 murders in 2012, with 181 involving handguns. It also has the third highest gun homicide rate in the US at 29.7 gun murders per 100,000 people.

In the third episode of our special series on guns in the US, Inside Story Americas travels to Baltimore to meet those trying to stop gun crime and others who say owning a gun is sometimes a matter of survival.

"The problem is right now the people who have guns in the inner city, in Baltimore, are most often drug dealers or gang members and the gun is the tool of their trade. And that is why we have almost 300 murders a year in Baltimore. If you took guns out of those people's hands, the murder rate would go down substantially and the gun violence would be reduced to almost nothing."

Doug Gansler, Maryland Attorney General

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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