DC May Only Have Itself To Blame For "Gun Violence" Issues

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Crime rates in cities like Washington DC are often used to justify gun control proposals that would impact the rest of the nation. We’re told the only way to deal with the scourge of so-called gun violence is more gun control, that regulating firearms far more than we already do is absolutely essential.

Now, obviously, I reject this assertion. Gun control hasn’t ever done us a bit of good so far as I can see looking at the data, and it causes a whole lot of problems.

But for some, the violence in places like DC is all the reason they need to restrict our gun ownership. There’s just one problem with that.

You see, DC’s issues? A lot of that, if not all of it, is probably on them.

City leaders have long lamented the proliferation and accessibility of illegal guns with crime again on the rise. D.C. police often highlight all the arrests they make for possession of them, too.

But not everyone arrested is convicted, or even charged, a D.C. Council member said Tuesday night.

“About a third of all of MPD’s gun arrests don’t get papered by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen during a town hall focused on crime in his ward. “Meaning they don’t move forward to be charged. That’s concerning and I want to know why.”

Allen said his office just received that information last week. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine wasn’t ready to substantiate that claim, and Magdalena Acevedo, a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, suggested that the real number of arrests that don’t get charged might be more like around 15%.

She said some gun arrests “may not pass constitutional muster,” but she and Racine also pointed out that the standard for an arrest and a prosecution are different.

“Let’s say there’s an individual stopped in a car and there are three people in a car and one gun. In that case, the police officers can arrest all three individuals for potentially having control over that weapon. But for prosecutors, we have to show which one person is responsible for possessing that gun. Most of the cases that are ‘no papered’ are cases like that,” Acevedo said.

Interestingly, Acevedo didn’t provide any actual data to back up her assertion, and the DC Attorney’s Office couldn’t say one way or another, so you can’t dismiss Allen’s claims out of hand.

That claim would fit a pattern we’ve seen in a lot of other major cities where people just aren’t being charged with various crimes for a number of reasons. Most of those aren’t “gun” crimes, of course, but the principle is the same.

Look, I think places like DC have way too many gun laws as it is. In many places, people break gun laws simply because it’s too difficult to carry a firearm lawfully–not in DC, though, since they’re an anti-gun jurisdiction with a shall-issue concealed carry law–and I get that. I truly do.

But often these crimes involve people who can’t lawfully own a gun, or they’re found in possession of a firearm known to have been stolen. If those turn out to be among those not being prosecuted, well, we’ve got a problem.

A big one.

As things stand, I can be skeptical of the claims by the US Attorney’s Office that it’s really only about 15 percent not being prosecuted and those are for perfectly valid reasons.

What we need, though, is hard data to tell definitively one way or another.

If Allen’s claims turn out to be true, then someone needs to answer some tough questions. We need to know who is getting a pass and who isn’t. If it’s just otherwise law-abiding people who feel pressed to violate laws just to be able to defend themselves, well, I’m fine with that. I can even applaud it.

If it’s not, though, we’ve got an issue.