We have previously noted our experience covering the capital as gun violence soared despite one of the toughest laws in the country and so was interested in this by a former prosecutor in DC, although we believe the increase was due more to the war on drugs than to the fact that legal residents were disarmed.
Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, Wall Street Journal - As a former prosecutor in Washington, DC, who enforced
firearms and ammunition cases while a severe local gun ban was still in
effect, I am skeptical of the benefits that many imagine will result
from additional gun-control efforts. I dislike guns, but I believe that
a nationwide firearms crackdown would place an undue burden on law
enforcement and endanger civil liberties while potentially increasing
The gun ban
had an unintended effect: It emboldened criminals because they knew that
law-abiding District residents were unarmed and powerless to defend
themselves. Violent crime increased after the law was enacted, with
homicides rising to 369 in 1988, from 188 in 1976 when the ban started.
By 1993, annual homicides had reached 454.
Since the gun ban was struck down,
murders in the District have steadily gone down, from 186 in 2008 to 88
in 2012, the lowest number since the law was enacted in 1976. The
decline resulted from a variety of factors, but losing the gun ban
certainly did not produce the rise in murders that many might have
expected. The urge to drastically restrict firearms after mass murders
like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month and in Aurora,
Colo., in July, is understandable. In effect, many people would like to
apply the District’s legal philosophy on firearms to the entire nation.
Based on what happened in Washington, I think that would be a mistake.
Any sense of safety and security would be a false one.