By Larry Keane
A new study from the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform revealed who is driving the vast majority of criminal firearm misuse in the Nation’s Capital. Go figure it’s a small number of lawbreakers and not law-abiding gun owners.
Stating that gun crimes in Washington, D.C., are shown to be committed by a “very tightly concentrated” group of individuals, the study’s author said, “This very small number of high risk individuals are identifiable. Their violence is predictable and therefore it is preventable.”
The data demonstrate the irony of Democratic-run big cities with strict Second Amendment restrictions and national gun control groups’ continued drive to force more gun control despite Americans believing in it less and lawfully buying their own firearms at record numbers.
What It Says
Homicide rates rose precipitously in Washington, D.C., in 2020 compared to 2019. That rate set an even higher mark in 2021 when the city had 226 murders. Those rising crime rates, the highest total in nearly 20 years, put D.C. among the nation’s largest cities to experience record crime rates over the past 12 months.
The NICJR study examined all 341 homicides (D.C. data puts the number at 364) from 2019-2020. The average age of victims is 31 and the average age of suspects is 27. The study found that 86 percent of victims and suspects have previously been involved with the D.C. criminal justice system.
“Overall, most victims and suspects with prior criminal offenses had been arrested about 11 times for about 13 different offenses by the time of the homicide,” the study said.
Of all murders examined, approximately 86 percent involved a firearm. The study excluded “cases of justified self-defense.”
Billionaire gun control funder Michael Bloomberg’s gun control propaganda news site The Trace even reported the study’s conclusion. “At least 500 identifiable people annually drive 60-70 percent of the city’s shootings — and likely no more than 200 individuals at any given moment in time.”
What It Doesn’t Say
The survey only included one main recommendation for how Washington, D.C., should best approach criminal misuse of guns and it conspicuously did not include one major theme – more gun control.
“The District should establish a clear citywide strategy that focuses intentional, structured, and intensive intervention efforts on those individuals identified as being at very high risk of being involved in gun violence,” it said.
Washingtonians wouldn’t be blamed if they assumed “intensive intervention efforts” involved more police to keep neighborhoods safe where known suspects would be most likely found. They could blame their Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the city council for exacerbating the crime problem in the first place. After all, they caved to calls of “defund the police” protests and cut millions from the Metropolitan Police Department budget. A fact check from local Washington, D.C., media put it plainly, ruling “Yes, MPD’s budget has been cut by millions in 2020.”
Washington, D.C. is home to some of the nation’s strictest gun control laws. In fact, for years there was only one location where a firearm could be transferred. Because that licensee was not a commercial firearm retailer that doesn’t actually sell guns, it only processed firearm transfers from outside jurisdictions. This forced Washingtonians to pay an additional $125 firearm transfer fee. That retailer closed, but two more opened, however they also do not sell firearms and only perform transfers.
That’s not stopping Washingtonians from exercising their Second Amendment rights and purchasing a firearm to protect themselves, their families and their property, however. According to the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), District residents have run NICS verifications for a firearm in record numbers in recent years.
In 2021, that total was 5,410. In 2020, it was 3,726. Compare those figures with 2019’s 1,550 and 2018’s 1,108 checks and 2017’s 811 checks. It becomes very clear how much Washington residents value their personal safety and protection from criminals allowed to be released easily, often committing more violence. Just two months ago, the families of murder victims in D.C., protested as the D.C. Council advanced a plan to allow early release for inmates who committed violent crimes before age 25. This age group is right in the wheelhouse of the key focus age of violent criminals examined in the NICJR report for committing murder.
After years of growing crime worsened by the city’s own actions making it easier for criminals to get off easy for their crimes, the NICJR study should make it clear to Washington, D.C. officials – and office holders across the country. Focus on the criminals and hold them to account for their crimes. Restricting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans is not the answer, and they will make their anger known at ballot boxes.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.