Reply to -- A Modest Proposal: End Gun Control in Washington, D.C.

By Bruce A. Clark (Written 5/19/96)

Interestingly enough, you are not the only person to have this idea. On March 19 of this year, about 100 Capitol Hill residents met with four members of the Washington, DC, Police Department to discuss home security, including how they could legally own shotguns and rifles for self defense.

Lt. Lowell K. Duckett told them that Residents are right to arm themselves. He said that the District's gun control law should be repealed. Duckett is a special assistant to Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby and president of the Black Police Caucus. He said "Gun control has not worked in D.C. The only people who have guns are criminals. We have the strictest gun laws in the nation and one of the highest murder rates. It's quicker to pull your Smith & Wesson than to dial 911 if you're being robbed."

The District's 1976 gun law banned handguns, and the public perceives that all gun ownership is illegal in the District. This is not true. Citizens can legally own rifles and shotguns. However, people must make an application to police prior to purchasing a gun. DC's gun law also mandates registration of shotguns and rifles. The law makes it difficult for honest people to defend themselves even with long guns, because those in homes must be kept unloaded and disassembled or locked.

It looks like experimentation on people is already being conducted in Washington, DC. The experiment seems to be this -- Let's see what happens to honest people when we neither provide good police protection, nor require police to protect any individual person, nor allow people to have the means to defend themselves. In the twenty years since DC enacted a virtual handgun ban, the city's murder rate has risen 200% and there has been a 300% rise in handgun-related homicide. Handgun use went from less than 60% of killings to 83%. The Capitol's gun law simply makes honest citizens easy prey for criminals.

In case you are tempted to say, despite what I've written on the subject previously, that the crimes in DC are the result of guns being brought in from other places, just as Virginia's Governor Wilder said in the debate over Virginia's 'gun rationing' law, remember: DC's total violent crime rate is about 13 times higher than Virginia's, and the homicide rate was 23 times higher. In DC, handguns are nearly prohibited, and in the Northern Virginia areas DC metropolitan area, there are relatively unintrusive gun laws. If it's just the availability of guns which is causing the problem, why are the crime rates in the two areas so dissimilar?

When compared with other areas with similar demographics and circumstances, no gun law any city, state or country can be demonstrated to have ever reduced violent crime, or slowed its rate of growth.

Great idea!!