Fifteen years after the Heller decision struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns, the District is still home to some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country, and it remains nearly impossible to lawfully purchase a firearm in the city since there are no gun stores to the general public. The same is true for those who want to obtain the training that the District mandates for all concealed carry holders, since there are no ranges inside the city limits either.
These gun laws have done a pretty good job of artificially depressing the number of legal gun owners in Washington, D.C., but they haven’t put a dent in the number of prohibited persons who’ve illegally armed themselves in violation of federal law; including a pre-teen that D.C. police say was responsible for a string of armed robberies earlier this month.
Police say the first incident happened on Sunday, May 21, around 3 p.m. in the 700 block of Lamont Street, Northwest. Officers responded to a report of a robbery.
According to an incident report, a man was on his way home from riding his bicycle. The victim told police he placed his bike on his porch and went to open his door when one of the boys said, “I’m going to take the bike.” The man said, “no you’re not,” and the boy pulled a gun from his fanny pack and pointed it at the man. The man ran inside his house and did not see which direction the boy went.
A few days later on May 24, police were called to the 700 block of Irving Street Northwest around 2:30 p.m. for a report of an assault. Responding officers learned that two unknown suspects on bicycles approached a victim. An incident report said the victim heard one of the suspects say “get him” and “get that.” The victim pushed one of the suspects and ran away. While running away, the victim told police they saw one of the suspects pointing a gun in their direction. The victim threw a rock at the two suspects, and they took off, the incident report says.
On Friday, police were called to the 400 block of Luray Place Northwest for a reported robbery. Investigators learned a suspect on a bike approached a man in a car and said, “give me your phone or I’ll shoot you.” The victim handed over their phone. The boy handed the phone back to the victim and said, “haha got you,” but then followed the victim and demanded his car keys and phone. Police say the suspect reached into a fanny pack, as if they were armed. The incident report says the boy got into the car, but could not move it. He got out of the car, threw the phone at the victim, and ran away.
Metropolitan Police arrested an 11-year-old on Saturday, and the kid is currently facing a number of charges, including armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. There’s no word on whether police have recovered any firearms believed to have been used by the pre-teen suspect, so I suppose there’s a chance that he was using a facsimile rather than a real gun, but as we’ve seen in other recent incidents, juveniles in the D.C. metro area aren’t struggling to find a way to get ahold of a genuine firearm despite their tender age and the draconian gun control laws in place in the District and the state of Maryland.
D.C.’s gun laws aren’t going to have an impact on someone like this, and to be honest I have my doubts that the District’s juvenile justice system is going to make much of a difference either. With D.C. politicians more interested in criminalizing legal gun owners than addressing violent crime itself, kids like this are going to continue to slip through the cracks and go on to commit even more serious offenses, while the law-abiding find it harder and harder to protect themselves.