D.C. mayor announces "gun violence task force" to take on crime

D.C. mayor announces "gun violence task force" to take on crime
Executive Office of the Mayor/Khalid Naji-Allah via AP

With violent crime surging in the District of Columbia and one of the top issues on the minds of voters across America, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is vowing to crack down on “gun violence” with the announcement of a new task force that she says will target the District’s most violent offenders.

“We cannot allow people to terrorize our communities with guns,”said Bowser.

“This is about using a whole-of-government approach, but it’s also about focusing our attention and resources on exactly where we know the problem is. Our message is clear – we will continue to offer people in our city a better path forward, but if people choose to engage in violence, then they will be held accountable,”Bowser said.

The new collaborative Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force (VCIT), an effort between Metropolitan D.C. Police and federal partners are aimed at removing illegal firearms from the community and apprehending armed criminals. The focus of the VCIT is to reduce violent crime by using more intelligence-driven operations and enhance our investigative abilities through federal agency partnerships.

With all due respect to Bowser, is it any better if people are terrorizing communities with knives, vehicles, or gasoline? More importantly, is this task force going to concentrate on “removing guns” or taking criminals off the street?

To be fair, firearms are by far the weapon of choice for the District’s career criminals, but the issue is still the individual possessing the gun and not the firearm itself. And honestly, Bowser’s announcement of the new task force sounds a lot more like a political solution than anything else. Have District police avoided working with their federal counterparts recently? Have they not been prioritizing arrests for illegal gun possession or violent felony offenses? What exactly is new about this strategy that would lead District residents to believe there’ll be a noticeable change in their neighborhoods?

And as one local news outlet wondered, with homicide rates rising in the District for several years, why not do this sooner if it will truly make a difference?

… the mayor cited a lack of resources available to MPD, and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

“Our ecosystem has been upended and it’s not 100% back, or in person, and people are living on the edge,” Bowser said. “We need everyone in the system., and that includes the community, because we will get safer together.”

What the heck does that even mean? I’m assuming the “ecosystem” that Bowser’s talking about is the general state of society in Washington, D.C. that’s been upended because of the COVID pandemic, but that still doesn’t explain why, if this task force is so vital to public safety, it wasn’t put in place before the pandemic happened. Bowser also can’t explain how this task force is going to be successful going forward when even she admits that the “ecosystem” still isn’t back to business as usual.

I wish the task force all the best at taking the District’s most prolific and violent offenders off the street, but if I lived in Washington, D.C. I wouldn’t outsource my personal safety to the local police or their partners in federal agencies. I would go through the cumbersome process of getting a government-issued permission slip to exercise my right to bear arms in self-defense, and I’d be sure to have my firearm with me whenever possible.