On October 1st, Philadelphia played host to three firearms-related murders in three hours. The killings raise the city’s gun death toll to 263 homicides. So far this year. While The City of Brotherly Love’s ballistic carnage still lags behind Chicago’s 400 deceased (and counting), you’d think there’d be more outrage. Yes, the local news continues to report the shooting deaths under the well-established principle “if it bleeds, it leads.” Yes, there are groups bemoaning the problem of “gun violence.” But, in general, it’s just another day at the office for another major American city, where gun control means gang bangers shoot guns and tax-paying good guys ignore it and get on with their lives. And there’s no better illustration of this “all gun violence is local” than the District of Columbia . . .
As Washington Times’ writer Emily Miller highlights in her series, our nation’s capital [still] has some of America’s most restrictive gun laws. As this 2010 crime stat table from guardian.co.uk’s Data Blog shows, D.C. was America’s most violent “state” (indulge me here) with 16 firearms murders per 100k population. Louisiana — number two on the list — doesn’t even come close, with 7.75 firearms murders per 100k population.
The absolute number of D.C. firearms murders in 2010 was 131. Again, that’s compared to Philly’s 2012-and counting 263 murders and Chicago’s 400+ murders. Washington D.C. is 68.3 square miles. Philadelphia (proper) is 135 square miles. Chicago (proper) is 234 square miles.
Given the murders per head and the relative compactness of D.C., its residents should be more aware of — and concerned about — firearms murders than Philadelphia. Stranger still, many of D.C.’s gun crimes happen within sight of the White House and the Capitol building.
But the people who “matter” don’t see it. They don’t fear it and why would they? When was the last time you heard about a member of Uncle Sam’s elite being shot in the nation’s capitol? The really powerful ones have their own bodyguards. The ones beneath that are protected by the police.
Washington’s elite are doing stupid things, but they are not “stupid people in stupid places.” And that’s important because gun violence is extremely local. The vast majority of firearms murders happen within a very small section of a city. These areas are cut-off from the safer, more affluent parts of the city by geography, culture, policing, politics, media and more.
Gun laws are designed by the elite for the elite who don’t face the same violence as less affluent people who sometimes live only a couple of miles or less away. In D.C., Philly, Chicago, New York, LA, etc., gun control laws “work”—for the people who “matter.” The residents of areas where gun crime is rife put up with gun control laws because they don’t understand that the laws are working against them and also because they don’t have any choice about where they live or what their legislators do.
That’s not strictly true. We live in a democracy. But in terms of D.C.’s gun control laws, democracy hasn’t really worked. Or it has, just in the wrong way. Luckily, the Supreme Court threw out D.C.’s gun laws for residents who didn’t know better or care enough to do something about them themselves. And then the Justices rode safely to their homes somewhere in a safe suburb.
I guess the Founding Fathers knew what they were doing. And they did it in Philadelphia.