Author and attorney Jeffrey Shapiro wrote an eye-opening piece in the Wall Street Journal this week about the effect that strict gun control legislation had on our nation’s capital. Numbers clearly show an increase in gun violence when gun controls are in effect and a decrease when law-abiding citizens can protect themselves with firearms.
“As a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who enforced firearms and ammunition cases while a severe local gun ban was still in effect, I am skeptical of the benefits that many imagine will result from additional gun-control efforts.”
Although Shapiro admits to personally disliking guns, the city numbers do not lie, and they paint a picture that does not bode well for the nation as regulations on guns become more restrictive.
A 1976 law in Washington D.C. banned firearms from everyone except police officers. This ban included residents of D.C. keeping firearms in their homes, although some were allowed to keep their firearms under the condition that they remain disassembled or trigger-locked. According to the city, broken guns were sufficient for private, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.
Over the years since the ban took effect, gun violence rose. “It emboldened criminals because they knew that law-abiding District residents were unarmed and powerless to defend themselves. Violent crime increased after the law was enacted, with homicides rising to 369 in 1988, from 188 in 1976 when the ban started. By 1993, annual homicides had reached 454.”
Gun violence nearly tripled during the ban, and people’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms was clearly trampled on. In 2007, a D.C. appeals court ruled the ban unconstitutional and subsequently repealed the law, allowing people in D.C. to once again take advantage of their 2nd amendment right. Gun violence decreased sharply since the law’s repeal. In fact, less than 100 murders took place in the city in 2012, a far cry from the number of murders during the gun ban.
“The urge to drastically restrict firearms after mass murders like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month and in Aurora, Colo., in July, is understandable. In effect, many people would like to apply the District’s legal philosophy on firearms to the entire nation. Based on what happened in Washington, I think that would be a mistake. Any sense of safety and security would be a false one,” Shapiro wrote.