Triple shooting at "gun-free" Metro station in D.C.

Triple shooting at "gun-free" Metro station in D.C.
(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson, File)

Police in Washington, D.C. say a teenage boy suffered life-threatening injuries and two other people received less serious injuries after a shooting in the Benning Road Metro Station on Thursday morning. At last report authorities haven’t released any suspect information, and no one is in custody in connection with the shooting, which was first reported by Metro just before 9:15 a.m.

This is the second time in less than 24 hours that shots have been fired at one of the many locations D.C. has deemed “sensitive” and off-limits to lawful concealed carry holders. On Wednesday evening, an off-duty FBI officer shot and killed a man during an altercation in the Metro Center subway stop in downtown D.C.

The agent got into an altercation with another person on the train platform just after 6:20 p.m., said Ashan Benedict, the executive assistant chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department.

During the argument, one of the individuals grabbed the other and they both fell down an 8-foot drop over a side wall, located away from the train tracks at the end of the platform, and continued to struggle, police said.

After they fell over that barrier, the fight continued before gunfire erupted, Benedict said.

The shootings come while D.C.’s ban on concealed carry on public transportation is being challenged in federal court, with plaintiffs arguing that the prohibition is squarely unconstitutional by denying legal gun owners and licensed concealed carriers the ability to exercise their right to armed self-defense in a public setting. In a recent amicus brief, the Second Amendment Foundation weighed in on Metro’s gun ban, with SAF leadership backing the legal challenge brought by several D.C. residents who say the ban has fundamentally impacted their ability protect themselves.

Alan Gottlieb, the Executive Vice President and founder of the SAF, pointed out the similarities of living in a post-NYSRPA v. Bruen world and post-Heller, “As it has done since trying to defend its ban on handguns during the Heller challenge 14 years ago, the District is literally grasping at straws in an effort to keep its citizens disarmed. That runs counter to the very fabric of our Second Amendment, especially following the Supreme Court ruling in Bruen.”

These infringements, as pointed out by Adam Kraut, do amount to a near blanket ban, going in direct opposition to prior rulings, “The District can’t be allowed to prevent thousands of people from exercising their right simply because the city isn’t able to set up a dedicated form of transportation for school students. To consider public transportation a ‘sensitive place’ would open Pandora’s Box, enabling the District to restore, in a de facto sense, the very ban struck down by the Supreme Court back in 2008.”

Even while legal gun owners have no lawful way of carrying on Metro property, transit officials acknowledge a rise in crimes throughout the system.

Metro General Manager Randy Clarke has said transit police have beefed up patrols at stations this fall in response to violence occurring on trains, stations or buses. The police force also has dispatched teams of officers throughout the system to enforce fare evasion, which proliferated during the pandemic.

“Really grateful for the quick reaction & thoughtful attention by our rail operator tonight whose response during tonight’s police involved shooting at @wmata Metro Center kept customers from potential danger,” Clarke tweeted.

Wednesday’s shooting comes days after an FBI agent was acquitted of attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of a man aboard a moving Metro train in December 2020.

Authorities said the agent was approached by a man who was panhandling and got into a verbal altercation with him. The agent said he fired his gun to defend himself after the man made threats and appeared to take an aggressive posture.

A prosecutor said the agent had “no business firing a gun.”

We know that violent crimes are taking place on Metro. We know that police can’t be everywhere to prevent those crimes from occurring. We know that it is, in fact, possible to use a firearm in self-defense on Metro property without endangering the lives of others.

And we also know that none of that matters to the decision-makers in D.C. who want to keep residents disarmed whenever and wherever possible. They’re firmly committed to the idea that your protection should be left to the District, even as incidents like this prove the need for peaceable gun owners to be able to protect themselves.