More than 61% of the 21 homicide victims in the county this year were killed by a gun. Credit: Bytmonas/Getty Images

This story, originally published at 10:55 a.m. Sept. 19, 2023, was updated at 7:10 p.m. Sept. 19, 2023, to correct the number of people killed on Labor Day and correct the total number of 2023 homicide victims to 21. The story was also updated at 12:27 p.m. Sept. 21, 2023, to correct the number of homicides in 2022 from 18 to 22, correct the headline and the graph accordingly and note a discrepancy in the 2021 homicide number. MoCo360 regrets the errors.

“My brother only had seven months of being 17,” a sister of Tyrone Howard Brown told those who gathered for his funeral on July 31, as recorded in a video on Brown’s memorial website

Brown was found suffering from gunshot wounds by Montgomery County Police in White Oak on July 14 in the driver’s seat of a car. When he died, he became the county’s 20th homicide in what is shaping up to be a bloody year.  

Brown’s case remains under investigation as of the time of publishing, police told MoCo360. 

There have been 21 homicide victims so far this year in the county, including two this month: one killed in a shooting on Labor Day and one killed in a stabbing on Sept. 10. In all of 2022 there were 22 and in 2021 there were 33, according to DataMontgomery

In the 2022 annual report, Montgomery County Police counted 35 homicides in 2021 and DataMontgomery notes that the discrepancy can be due to “homicides have been reclassified or unfounded and may vary from official MCPD reports in the past. Homicides and other crimes may be retroactively reclassified, unfounded, etc. after they have been reported in MCPD reports.”


“I share the concerns of community members about the rise in violence in our county and want to affirm that any violence, including gun violence, is unacceptable and we must continue work to address its root causes,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Kristin Mink (D-Dist. 5), whose district contains White Oak, Colesville and Fairland. 

Brown’s shooting was one of the more than 61% of homicides in the county this year involving a gun, with other causes including stabbings and beatings. Politicians and police officers contacted for this story pointed to gun violence when voicing frustration.

Earl Stoddard, MoCo’s Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, said that people assume that others around them have guns, so they need to have guns too.  


“There is a presumption on the streets that if you are in a conflict with somebody, you have to presume that they have a firearm,” Stoddard said. “That’s what we’re hearing from a lot of people who are both victims and perpetrators of crime.”  

Stoddard calls this phenomenon a “negative feedback loop.” 

County Councilmember Kate Stewart (D-Dist. 4), whose district contains North Bethesda, downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park, said that she has discussed this issue with the police department as well. 


“A year ago or a year and a half ago, if you had two people having a disagreement, they might end up in a fistfight or something else, but now we’re more likely than not have a gun involved,” Stewart said. 

Mink said that the one of the most efficient ways for law enforcement to reduce violent crime is “getting guns off the street through coordinated investigations with federal, state and regional agencies.” 

Lauren Kline, co-founder of the Brady United Against Gun violence chapter in Montgomery County, said that this is a national issue that is being reflected in the county. 


“Montgomery County is mirroring every other county in the country,” Kline said. “There’s been an increase in gun violence nationally.”

The Trace, “an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom dedicated to shining a light on America’s gun violence crisis,” put together data from 2000 to 2023 on the estimated number of guns sold in the United States: 

In 2020, the U.S. had a historic high of gun sales, with an estimate of around 21 million guns sold. The second highest year since 2000 was 2016 with an estimate of around 16 million guns sold. The numbers have decreased slightly since 2020 but have not yet returned to pre-2020 levels. 


So far in 2023, around 9.9 million guns have been sold, according to the Trace. 

Kline said that an issue in Montgomery County specifically is guns being brought into the county from other jurisdictions.  

“When you’re talking about something like guns which are trafficked, it’s very hard,” Kline said. “People don’t go ‘oh, gee, I’m at the Montgomery County border, let me check my gun at the door here, or let me make sure I’m in compliance.’” 


Stoddard said that one of the ways to mitigate this is to address another issue: car thefts. 

He said that many firearms used in the county are purchased in Virgina, which has less strict gun laws than Maryland. Many of these guns are being brought over the state lines in stolen cars, according to Stoddard. 

“They often use stolen cars as a way to avoid being caught,” Stoddard said. 


Stoddard said last year Montgomery County began using license plate readers as a tool to track down car thieves and aid investigations, especially in the context of carjackings

The Automatic License Plate Recognition System was implemented on Oct. 31, 2022. It is used to identify “vehicles of interest,” including stolen vehicles or tags, vehicles belonging to or operated by wanted or missing individuals, and vehicles flagged by the Motor Vehicle Administration, according to police. 

Stoddard said that the county plans to install additional license plate readers and camera platforms. 


Another factor leading to increased gun violence, according to Stoddard: ghost guns. 

“Ghost guns have caused massive proliferation in firearms throughout our communities,” Stoddard said. 

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in America, a ghost gun is:  


“A do-it-yourself, homemade gun made from easy-to-get building blocks that can be purchased with no background check and no questions asked. These guns are made by an individual, not a federally licensed manufacturer or importer.” 

In 2022, Maryland made ghost guns illegal. 

Montgomery County Police said that in a Sept. 6 triple shooting that killed one person and injured two others, the shooter used a ghost gun


While county leaders say that gun violence is a regional issue, nearby counties have not experienced this same spike in homicides like Montgomery County.  

Prince George’s County has had 67 homicides in 2023 and 73 at this time last year, according to the Prince George’s County Police Department.  

Baltimore County has had 20 so far this year, and at this time last year, they had 20, according to the Baltimore County Police. 


Frederick County has had no homicides this year, and one last year, said Todd Wivell, spokesperson for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. 

As the year continues, Montgomery County government officials, activists and community members will be watching closely to see if the trend of spiking murders continues. 

If it does, there could be more people grieving after their loved one is killed. 


“You could be me,” Brown’s older sister Tia Corry said at his funeral, noting that Brown was her second brother lost to gun violence. “You could be burying your second brother. This could be your story.”