“District of Crime”: Shocking Case Characteristic of D.C. Approach to Violence

Gun Rights

When a reasonable person finds it impossible to take anti-gun big city politicians and their professed “need” for more gun control seriously, maybe it’s stories like this one from Washington, D.C. that play a role. On May 8, District of Columbia CBS affiliate WUSA published a story with the astounding headline “Prosecutors say he emptied an AR-15 rifle into a public DC street. A judge granted him pre-trial release.

According to the item, prosecutors allege that on April 22 an 18-year-old went into the middle of a public street in Southeast D.C. with an AR-15 and fired 26 shots at a moving motor vehicle. The article pointed out that the young adult has been “charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a gun during a violent crime. Both are felonies.”

Despite the alleged outrageous conduct, the accused was granted pre-trial release. The article explained, “After [the accused] was initially detained, Judge Lloyd Nolan granted a public defender’s motion for pre-trial release, placing [the accused] on home detention in Maryland with GPS monitoring and a stay-away order from the other people in the car.”

Lest anyone think that a lack of sufficient evidence may have played a role, the incident was reportedly caught on video by no less than three cameras. WUSA obtained two of the videos, and readers are encouraged to watch the shocking footage here.

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Summing up the situation, one neighborhood resident told the media outlet, “There is no accountability. We are living in the District of Crime.”

Setting aside the present incident, law-abiding gun owners get understandably frustrated when the same jurisdictions braying for more gun control take a soft touch with those who misuse firearms to harm others. The situation is even more galling when that jurisdiction is Washington, D.C. The federal enclave’s local government operates at the pleasure of the federal government. When the federal government uses its vast powers to target innocuous gun owners throughout the nation while refusing to adequately confront actual violent crime in their own enclave, people have a right to be upset and a right to question the motives of those pushing ever greater gun control.

As NRA-ILA has repeatedly pointed out, when it comes to D.C. violent crime policy, there is plenty of low-hanging fruit to be picked. This is in part because violent crime is heavily concentrated among individuals that are already known to law enforcement. This means that vigorous prosecution of an exceedingly small subset of the population could severely impact violent crime without resorting to attacking the rights of law-abiding citizens.

A December 2021 study from the federal enclave’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) found that “In Washington, DC, most gun violence is tightly concentrated.” The report went on to explain,

This small number of very high risk individuals are identifiable, their violence is predictable, and therefore it is preventable. Based on the assessment of data and the series of interviews conducted, [National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform] estimates that within a year, there are at least 500 identifiable people who rise to this level of very high risk, and likely no more than 200 at any one given time. These individuals comprise approximately 60-70% of all gun violence in the District.

According to the report, “Approximately 86 percent of homicide victims and suspects were known to the criminal justice system prior to the incident. Among all victims and suspects, about 46 percent had been previously incarcerated.” Further, “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.”

More recently, the Heritage Foundation published an item discussing the District’s lackluster prosecutorial practices under U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves, analyzing information from the D.C. Sentencing Commission’s 2023 Annual Report. Back in December, NRA-ILA questioned Graves’s grasp of federal gun law when he was quoted in the Washington Post in a manner suggesting the U.S. Attorney may not understand the federal definition of a “machinegun.”

The Heritage piece noted,

Every day, law enforcement officers in the District of Columbia arrest felons who are in possession of a firearm. Every day, those cases are presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Under Graves’ tepid leadership over the past two years, over 2,000 gun cases either were not prosecuted, dropped, or pled down to lesser charges in D.C. Superior Court, according to the D.C. Sentencing Commission’s annual report.

Readers are encouraged to read the rest of the report here.

Given the federal government’s inability or unwillingness to tackle violent crime perpetrated with firearms in its own backyard using the existing laws at their disposal, federal politicians’ demands to further encumber law-abiding gun owners should be met the skepticism, and derision, it deserves.

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