Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan used his sixth State of the State address Wednesday to call Baltimore’s unrelenting violence the state’s most pressing problem, the Washington Post reports. The issue tops the Democratic agenda as well. He noted that gun violence has claimed toddlers and senior citizens. “People are being shot every single day in Baltimore City,” Hogan said. “This is an urgent crisis, and we have an obligation to do something about it right now. There can be no more excuses and no more delays.” The governor called for tougher penalties for repeat violent offenders who use illegal guns and for those who seriously injure or kill witnesses to intimidate them. He wants more transparency and accountability from judges, including the publication of detailed, judge-by-judge information on sentences handed down for violent crimes across the state.
Baltimore lawmakers criticized Hogan for suggesting law enforcement was the sole solution in a city with systemic poverty, lackluster schools and high unemployment. “It shows a gross misunderstanding of how violence and criminality develop in the first place,” said Delegate Stephanie Smith, chair of the Baltimore delegation. “You can’t find me a safe place where people don’t have jobs, don’t have good education, don’t have access to good recreation.” Democratic leaders announced their own anti-violence plan, including criminal penalties for lost and stolen guns, more resources for parole and probation agencies and a statewide audit of gun crimes to identify where the weapons are coming from. Democrats noted that nearly 31 percent of murder victims in Baltimore last year were on parole or probation when they were killed, and almost 28 percent of murder suspects were under state parole and probation supervision.