BALTIMORE -- A mayoral candidate's plan to reduce violence in Baltimore includes a "bullet tax" that he said will increase the cost of committing a crime.
Otis Rolley said he would, if elected, propose a $1 per bullet tax on all bullet purchases in the city. The idea was part of an overall crime plan he unveiled Tuesday.
Rolley also said, according to I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller, that he's willing to touch what Miller called the third rail of Baltimore politics -- the police budget.
"This is not a revenue enhancement tool," Rolley said of the tax idea. "It's a 'make it difficult for you to buy bullets in the city' tool."
The bullet tax is part of Rolley's public safety plan, which includes a change in how the city treats some drug use. He wants to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a summary offense. That would treat the offense more like public drunkenness than a drug crime, Miller reported.
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PDF: The Rolley Plan To Reduce Crime In Baltimore
"A lot of time, energy and effort is wasted by our courts and police officers spending time on petty crime," Rolley said. "I want them to focus on quality of life. I want them to focus in on the most violent offenders."
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Rolley promises more efficient policing in Baltimore, Miller reported.
Since 2000, the city has spent $4 billion on policing, but the city's homicide rate hasn't significantly budged, according to Miller's Tuesday report.
In 2000, the homicide rate was 40 per 100,000 people. In 2010, the rate was 36 per 100,000 people -- still among the highest in the country.
"It's more than fair to ask whether that's been a good investment, and my answer would be no," Rolley said of the $4 billion figure.
Rolley said he is willing to consider spending less on policing if it's part of what he called a "bigger plan."
"If you make cuts in public safety, you have to enhance other areas so you enhance public safety. Right now, we're not doing that."
Rolley said the bullet tax would cause a decrease in "random firings that too often happen around holidays" and put a high price tag on the cost of committing a crime.
"This is not a revenue enhancement tool. It's a 'make it difficult for you to buy bullets in the city' tool."
- Otis Rolley
"While the courts have consistently ruled against significant gun control legislation, there is still a way to decrease crime: substantially increase the cost of its commission," Rolley's plan states.
"Increasing the cost of guns won't work, because many criminals don't purchase new guns, and they can be borrowed or even rented in some areas," his plan states.
Minutes after WBALTV.com posted this story, our friends on Facebook swiftly shared their reaction.
Judy Lloyd wrote, "Taxing those trying to protect their homes or hunt? How about a tax on stupidity?"
Danny Kutrick wrote, "I almost shot my drink through my nose. Criminals don't by ammo from a store."
Jeneene Precious Richardson-Rogers wrote, "How can it hinder crime if a majority of the crimes committed are with illegal handguns? So, how would they collect a tax for bullets when the only people it would hurt is the ones who are legally able to buy guns and not the criminal?"
Rolley, a Democrat, served as the city's planning director from 2003 to 2007.
The primary will be held in September.
July 6, 2011: Field Set For Baltimore Mayor's Race
June 7, 2011: Tax Rate Could Make, Break Baltimore Mayoral Candidates
April 13, 2011: Rolley Launches Baltimore Mayoral Bid
Read more: http://www.wbaltv.com/politics/28595846/detail.html#ixzz1Sb3AgMH0