Baltimore has the highest per capita murder rate among any sizeable American metropolis, making it an anomaly in the national crime landscape for cities with populations over a half million. City officials recently held a three-day gun buyback program in the attempt to rid the region of weapons as homicides climbed over 300 for the fourth consecutive year.
Baltimore police collected more than 1,000 firearms during the buyback event last week. The weapons included 509 pistols, 273 rifles, 245 shotguns, and... a rocket launcher, for which the city paid $500 according to The Baltimore Sun.
City Mayor Catherine Pugh tweeted that 1,800 guns and one rocket launcher were removed from the streets.
Mayor Pugh said, "And yet the @NRA thinks somehow rocket launchers are good for Baltimore. Perhaps a name change is in order: The National Rocket Association."
As of today we removed over 1800 guns and 1 rocket launcher from the streets of #Baltimore. And yet the @NRA thinks somehow rocket launchers are good for Baltimore. Perhaps a name change is in order: The National Rocket Association. @Everytown— Mayor Catherine Pugh (@MayorPugh50) December 22, 2018
Interim police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said Friday police contacted the US Army and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in an attempt to figure out where the rocket launcher came from.
A spokesperson for the Mayor told the Sun that $250,000 had been made available to fund the cost of the buyback program.
Authorities offered $25 for magazines, $100 for revolvers and pump action weapons, $200 for semi-automatic guns and $500 for automatic weapons (and, apparently, rocket launchers).
Some Baltimore residents spoke out against the program as ineffective against gun violence, but Tuggle said the Baltimore Police Department remains devoted to removing dangerous weapons off America's most dangerous streets, even if that happens to be a rocket launcher.
“If they’re not in existence, they’re not in the home, they can’t be used, they can’t be stolen. They won’t contribute to our violence,” he said.
In case you were wondering, here is the rocket launcher in action, if not quite in the dense urban jungle of Baltimore: