Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Gun Ban Has Triggered Safety

In 1973, Congress began allowing residents of Washington, D.C., to elect a City Council to handle primary governing functions. After three years, that Council passed the Firearms Control Regulations Act, which continues to prohibit anyone in the District from owning a gun, with the exception of police officers and owners of guns registered before the act took effect.Washington’s gun ban is strict. It’s absolute. And it’s necessary.

Last year, Washington’s gun law became threatened when a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the ban violated a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. After the full appeals court refused to reconsider the decision, the case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to make its decision later this year.

Should the Supreme Court overturn the ban, it will have effectively robbed the District of the ability to determine how to best address its local plague of violent crime.

It may come as a surprise that Washington’s residents would point to a prevalence of violent crime as proof of the need for a comprehensive ban on firearms. After all, criminals would be much less likely to attack students or invade homes if there was a chance that their victims were packing heat, right?

But the truth is, the law works. Soon after the gun ban went into effect, but while the city was still saturated with weapons registered before the ban, crime rates began to rise. By 1991, the D.C. murder rate had reached 80.6 per 100,000 residents. Two and a half percent of all residents, or 14,671 people, had fallen victim to a violent crime.

By that point, Washington had become known as the “murder capital” of the United States.

But soon – as the number of guns presumably began to decline – the long-term effects of the gun ban became clear. By 2005, the murder rate had dropped to 29 per 100,000, and the number of violent crimes had been reduced to 8,032.

The introduction of firearms into a city plagued by violent crime introduces an unnecessary factor to an already unstable equation. If firearms became legal again, the level of criminal activity already present in our streets would most likely return to the unconscionable rates that plagued our neighborhoods just a few years ago.

An argument against the ban is that criminals who commit violent crime in Washington have ready access to firearms in nearby Maryland or Virginia, which can then be carried into the District. As a result, the ban only prohibits law-abiding citizens from acquiring weapons for self-defense. But, rather than provide a compelling reason for a re-introduction of gun sales to D.C., such a position only points to the need to expand strict gun control laws to those areas within and around the Beltway. Criminals intent on committing violent crimes will likely always be able to locate weapons, but criminals’ desire to obtain firearms is not a reason to provide them with a ready supply.

Georgetown is no stranger to D.C.’s violent tendencies. In the past four years, at least two students have experienced the terror of being on the receiving end of a pistol’s bullet. Countless muggings and robberies have plagued the campus and surrounding community for several years, and the criminals who commit these crimes frequently carry firearms.

As this Board has argued before, our community needs to direct efforts toward preventing and prosecuting violent crime. We like Department of Public Safety to expand its surveillance capabilities.

The challenge of creating a safe community is already a daunting goal. With the addition of potentially thousands of firearms, it becomes a nearly impossible one.

It is in the interest of Washington’s residents, and of our campus community, that D.C.’s ban on firearms remain in effect.

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