Guns Don’t Kill People, I Do.

Well, we’re better than New Orleans or Los Angeles. When it comes to murders-by-firearm ratios. Sure, we’re at 80% of the homicides being fatal gunshots, but it could be much worse. New Orleans? 92% of homicides are caused by guns. But, where are these guns coming from? Aren’t guns supposed to be illegal in DC? Surely that ban is saving lives left and right! Well, it’s hard to say, honestly, because the MPD doesn’t exactly track why people were killed by firearms. Was it a bad-guy on bad-guy crime? Was it a drive-by that killed an innocent kid? Was it the police shooting a suspect? None of that is kept in the statistics.

Soon to be outgoing Police Chief Ramsey is busy blaming Maryland and Virginia for importing the guns to the District. “We have tough gun laws, but most of our guns are coming from Virginia and Maryland,” says Chief Ramsey in a article in the Washington Times on Friday. Well, let’s look for a second at the crime rates of neighboring areas.

MoCo: 19 murders in all of 2005. Their crime statistics group doesn’t break it down by method. That might be because there were only 19 murders in the whole county last year.

Prince George’s County: 135+ murders in 2006. Their crime statistics also don’t break out kinds of murders, only their mere numbers.

Arlington County: 5 murders. Right. Five. No breakdown on percentage of gun violence.

Alexandria City: 2 murders in 2004. There’s no statistics on 2005 yet, sadly.

Okay, so let’s see. What are the gun laws in Virginia? Here’s a handy reference. A short summary: You can buy one gun every 30 days in Virginia (not quite sure why you need more than one, but okay), and there are restrictions on who may buy them. You can apply for Concealed Carry in Virginia, provided you take training and pay for a license. What are the gun laws in Maryland? Well, like Virginia, you may buy one gun per 30 days. Like Virginia, you can apply for a concealed carry permit, but apparently results are mixed with actually getting them.

So, let’s see. DC is having gun violence because citizens of Virginia and Maryland can legally buy one gun per 30 days, and may need to get training in order to carry them in public. Sorry, Chief, that doesn’t fly with me. DC’s gun laws aren’t a deterrent to violent crime. The problem isn’t the laws or the guns, it’s the actual criminals that we’re either not preventing from committing the crime, or dealing with effectively once they’re in the system. It’s not helping that DC residents can’t carry to protect themselves, either. Yeah, I’m ready for the slew of “but think of the children!” and “what about accidental shootings?” But what I’m not ready for is the Chief of Police saying that gun laws in MD and VA are causing homicides with guns in the District. That’s a load of horseshit.

12 Comments so far

  1. Mark (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 4:33 am

    Absolutely! Why do Virginia cities/counties a short walk across the Key Bridge, Chain Bridge, and Mason Bridge have less than one tenth the number of murders, and one third the population? Maybe population density? Richmond, VA’s murder rate is almost as high as Washington DC’s as the population density and drug culture is almost as high as DC’s. New York City’s murder rate in 2004 was 7 per 100k people; Richmond, Va crime rate was 43 per 100k people; Balimore, MD was 42 per 100k people; contrasted with Altanta, GA with 20 per 100k people, and Compton, Ca with 67 per 100k people. From http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0934323.html. There’s a good section on this at Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Washington,_D.C.#Gun_restriction_laws


  2. Mike (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 8:31 am

    Ramsey didn’t say MD and VA’s gun laws were causing DC’s homicides, he said that most of the guns in DC are coming from MD and VA. He’s right about that. If you don’t think they’re coming from those states then where do you think they’re coming from?


  3. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 11:14 am

    I have a strong suspicion that most of the guns being used for homicide aren’t being purchased through legal channels that involve registration and paperwork…

    This fact is lost on leftists however who somehow think all gun violence will stop by making guns illegal. As if the criminals are going to say “I’m gonna go shoot someone. Oh never mind, that’s illegal. I guess I’ll just go watch TV instead.”


  4. Tiff (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 11:19 am

    Of course you need more than one gun… shotgun for the house, handgun for the hip, handgun for the wife’s hip… that’s three right there. :D


  5. wayan (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 11:20 am

    Here’s a question for you: Name a gunsmith in DC.

    Right, no guns are made in DC, either on a grand scale or in backyard forges. Yet there are many gun-related homicides in the city. Unless guns are falling from the sky, they are imported into DC.

    But is VA or MD to blame alone? Not quite. Guns are probably imported along the same lines as drugs, and supply comes from NYC and Miami as much as anywhere else.

    Is MD or VA safer because of its gun laws? Nope. Look at your & and Mark’s stats. Its not gun laws that make safe areas. Its high employment, wealth, and relative social equality that creates safe areas.

    If we had that in DC, it would be a safe city no matter the gun laws. Gun laws mainly keep idiots (vs. criminals) from owning guns. Idiots who don’t child proof guns and whip them out in the wrong places for the wrong reasons, or allow others to do so.


  6. Krempasky (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 4:46 pm

    Wayan – bullocks. You think gun laws keep idiots from owning guns? Based on…what, again? Oh, right. The Gospel of Wayan. If we all had social inequality, there’d be no crime. Uh huh. It’s just those damn poor peolpe.

    Do me a favor, Wayan – go dig deep and find me the crime rate of concealed carry permit holders. Then find some instances where same universe of people were involved in a police shooting.

    THEN, go find some data regarding that same group of folks actually assisted police.

    And Tom – you forgot the best part of VA gun ownership laws – open carry. That’s right. With no permit at all, you may legally carry a gun openly – on that hip Tiff mentioned. Granted, you still can’t carry it in certain places (namely, places with alcohol) – but you can damn well go to Starbucks strapped if you want.

    No complaints about the Wild West in Virginia…


  7. Mike (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

    Concealed carry holders have to go through a permit process and that weeds out a lot of the idiots Wayan talked about. That’s what reasonable regulations do. That’s the point.

    These debates tend to be silly because gun laws tend to follow how much crime there is in an area and not the other way around. Areas with low crime rates don’t bother with the inconvienence of strictly regulating gun ownership. Areas with high crime rates, like DC, do bother. That’s often futile, especially in the case when the area is surrounded by more gun-friendly areas, but anyway it doesn’t prove anything to then point at them still having a high rate of crime.


  8. Don (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 9:41 am

    Yeah, open carry is the best thing about VA laws. Can you hear my eyes rolling from here? Exactly what does it say about a person that they WANT to strap on to head down to the local Starbucks? It’s telling that you come up with that kind of rambling-around-town as an example rather than the actual reasonable uses for open carry, such as taking the day’s receipts to the bank deposit after closing or other high-risk activities.

    Then again, that’s always been the problem with the anti-control crowd – they’re more than willing to embrace statistics about concealed carry with no concern that correlation does not necessarily equal causation and they’re madly in love with anecdotal examples of unusual cases, such as the poor, poor woman who stayed with an abusive husband for a dozen years and was then unable to get herself a gun in under 72 hours right after she left him.

    The prohibitionists are similarly deluded in thinking they can keep guns off the street when there’s already three ‘in the wild’ for every man, woman and child in the US, but at least they don’t serenade you with meaningless statistics and nonsensical anecdotes.


  9. Krempasky (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

    Don, I’m not surprised that you didn’t catch the sarcasm about open carry.


  10. Krempasky (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

    Oh – and the point of the “meaningless statistics” was to draw attention to the absurdity not of having people fill out paperwork to get the means to defend themselves – but of the notion that a ban that affects everyone (a la DC) is actually something that a reasonable person would ever think of as effective public policy.

    Oh – and your definition of a “reasonable use” is exactly the kind of idiocy that leads to parsing the time, place, and manner of personal defense. If it’s such a marvelously barbaric idea that offends sensibilities – why don’t I hear of the wave of…gee, I don’t know – problems as a result?

    Just meaningless statistics that can’t stand up to the weight of irrefutable emotion, I suppose.


  11. Don (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 10:33 am

    Don’t know what to tell you, K. I went back and looked at your comment just now and I feel like I recognized the sarcasm and parsed the statements to the best of my ability. I had to read between the lines a little bit to try to figure out what things like “THEN, go find some data regarding that same group of folks actually assisted police” and “No complaints about the Wild West in Virginia…” meant – are you claiming those people assisted police? Like, in a gunfight? Or were assisted by police? YOU’RE not complaining about Virginia or Wayan’s not complaining?

    I similarly am sorry that you find it objectionable that I think there’s reasonable tradeoffs in weapony carrying. I lived in Florida when the carry laws changed in a similar way to allow people to strap their six-shooter visibly to their hip and go where they want, and without fail where they went were places where the only people who felt threatened were the ones there already when those wanna-be Wyatt Earps walked in with their hand cannons. I will go so far as to say I think you’re being disingenuous if you claim you really feel the need to be publicly strapped when you head out for your double soy latte.

    Personally I don’t take issue with concealed carry laws as they’re currently implemented, except so far as I think the standard for them – training on lawful use of deadly force, some actual hand-on firearm instruction – really should just be the standard for basic gun ownership.


  12. Anon (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

    DC has a gun problem because stupid leftists blame the guns for the problem. If they could get it through their thick skulls that the criminals are the problem, some progress might be made.

    You could eliminate every single gun from the streets of the city, and DC would STILL have a murder & crime problem. If, however, you take the criminals off the street, you will NOT have a gun problem. Liberals just can’t seem to grasp such fundamental truths. Guns are just things. Only people can be evil – and THAT is a truth that liberals don’t WANT to believe.

    Prior to 1968 you could buy guns in Gas Stations and Hardware Stores, and by Mail with no background check at all – and crime was low. Guns don’t cause crime. Ineffective and failed liberal social policy that treats criminals as ‘victims of society’ is why we have much higher crime now.

    In short: It’s the criminals stupid!



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