D.C.'s concealed carry trailblazer warns on crime in nation's capitol: "It’s going to just be ‘Hunger Games’”

(AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

Many Washington, D.C. residents who make the decision to lawfully carry a firearm in self-defense make firearms instructor Leon Spears’s office their first stop on their lengthy and cumbersome journey towards possessing a concealed carry license. Spears was not only the first training instructor authorized by the Metropolitan Police Department to teach the 16-hour concealed carry course that’s necessary to obtain a carry permit, but he was also the first D.C. resident to receive his own license to carry a concealed firearm.


Spears took his pro-self-defense message to an unlikely place this week; talking to students at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. The gun instructor and Second Amendment advocate was invited to speak by the university’s College Republicans chapter, but Spears had good advice, as well as a warning, for all District residents, including the Democrats who dominate the District’s political scene.

He said D.C. is “in trouble” right now because officials aren’t being tough enough on crime and that people should pursue a concealed carry permit in order to carry a firearm for self defense. The District passed 200 homicides this year in September, a milestone D.C. reached in late December in 2022, and D.C. is currently experiencing a 40 percent increase in violet crime compared to records this time last year, according to Metropolitan Police Department records.

“If they do not come slamming hard with a hammer for criminal activity, it’s going to just be, ‘Hunger Games,’” Spears said. “So I’m just always a proponent for people to have their firearms.”

Spears said he is trying to get permission from the University to teach as an adjunct professor about gun laws. He said people need to understand gun laws to empower and protect themselves.

“People really need to know this stuff,” Spears said. “They just walk around and they just aren’t aware.”


Concealed carry does have its limitations in Washington, D.C, starting with the sheer number of federal buildings and public transportation facilities that are deemed “gun-free zones” by the District’s local government. It’s far too easy to inadvertently cross over into a “sensitive place”, especially when you’re in a part of the city that’s chock-full of both private businesses and government entities. The abundance of no-go zones for lawful gun owners, combined with an onerous training mandate that cannot be satisfied without traveling to Maryland or Virginia to complete the live-fire training, helps to artificially suppress the number of active concealed carry holders, but the sharp increase in violent crime throughout D.C. may be leading some residents to embrace their Second Amendment rights for the very first time.

Surging violent crime this year has spread fear and frustration across the District of Columbia, as police here struggle to curb the bloodshed at a time when many U.S. cities are seeing double-digit declines in homicides.
The district has had 216 homicides this year, 38% more than at this point in 2022—and more than any full year from 2004 to 2020, police data show. By contrast, killings are down this year in big cities from coast to coast: by 24% in Los Angeles, 19% in Houston, 18% in Philadelphia, 12% in Chicago, and 11% in New York City.
“I definitely think public safety has been and continues to be the No. 1 concern for district residents,” said Lindsey Appiah, D.C.’s deputy mayor for public safety. She said other types of crime drive fear, too. Robberies are up 70%, and car thefts have more than doubled.
Washington Highlands resident Holly Scott, 52 years old, said she now leaves earlier for her public-transit commute to an overnight job as a case manager, nervous about being on neighborhood streets late at night. She also carries her licensed gun. “To protect myself,” she said, “because it happens that randomly.”
I applaud Scott for taking her safety seriously, though she runs the risk of being arrested and charged every time she sets foot on public transportation with her lawfully-owned firearm. Even with a concealed carry license she’s not allowed to bring her gun with her on a city bus or a Metro train car, which makes it virtually impossible for D.C. residents who depend on public transportation to protect themselves in public without violating D.C.’s gun laws.
Spears is right that people need to be aware of both the gun laws and the rise in violent crime in Washington, D.C., but the anti-gunners in charge of local government need to be aware that their policies are putting people like Scott at risk of both criminal prosecution for exercising a civil right or, conversely, of being unarmed and defenseless if she complies with D.C.’s “sensitive places” designation. It’s not lawful gun owners like Holly Scott or Leon Spears who are committing the vast majority of violent crimes in the District, but its those folks who are the targets of D.C.’s almost endless number of gun control regulations.


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