The hustle and bustle along the District's Florida Avenue and its arteries Thursday morning betrayed what occurred less than 24 hours earlier when urban desperados shot a father and son.
For drivers of white-paneled trucks and vans, store owners and warehouse laborers awaiting deliveries, and customers in search of fresh meat, produce and retail goods, Thursday morning was business as usual in the city's wholesale district, but manned police patrol cars and ubiquitous yellow crime-scene tape told a different story.
It's the story of a city whose leadership wants to deny Second Amendment rights to its citizenry and business owners, while, at the same time, play liberal politics on behalf of the "perps" who prey on ordinary people as they go about their daily lives.
By all accounts, the family that owns and runs Lida Wholesale off Florida Avenue were going about their day when gun shots rang out about 2:30 Wednesday afternoon. Two gunmen left the father mortally wounded and his son facing life-threatening wounds.
Police chased the getaway car, but the perpetrators got away, at least for now.
About the only thing in dispute is whether the victims confronted the bad guys themselves - unarmed. Witnesses said the victims were shot as the gunmen fled.
Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier warned shopkeepers. "First and foremost, if you are in an establishment and a robbery occurs, give up what it is they are in there to get, particularly, the cash," WTTG-TV Fox 5 quoted her as saying.
Her advice is of little comfort to D.C. residents and business owners who face some of the strictest handgun-control laws in America.
No one can predict what could have happened had the storeowner or his son popped a round or two at the perpetrators. No one can predict how armed storeowners, warehouse laborers or customers would have reacted to the gunfire.
There is the possibility that, fearing for their own lives and property, legitimate gun owners would have taken matters into their hands.
We don't know. We don't know because, even after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city's tough anti-gun laws in 2008, Democrats are still saying that private handgun ownership would undermine the rights and safety of D.C. residents.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says a revised D.C. gun bill making the rounds on Capitol Hill is "far more dangerous" than an earlier version passed in the Senate.
"The Second Amendment Enforcement Act would: ... permit D.C. to regulate, but not prohibit, the carrying of guns in public, openly or concealed," Mrs. Norton, a Democrat, said in a June 22 press statement.
Nowhere in the release does Mrs. Norton, the city's only elected voice on the Hill, express the need for and the right of residents to defend themselves against the kind of violence that broke out Wednesday afternoon.
She doesn't even mention that the families victimized by a mass drive-by shooting in April ought to have the right to bear arms should they so choose. Mrs. Norton does mention that she arranged for the victims' relatives to meet with House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, another Democrat, and other anti-gun rights activists to help stop the new gun bill.
Here again, we don't know what would have happened had people in the vicinity whipped out their own guns and dispensed justice. We don't even know whether the gunmen were in lawful possession of weapons.
We do know, however, that outright gun prohibition denies law-abiding Americans from defending life, limb and property from urban desperados.
Armed bank robbers, carjackers, home invaders? They know their potential victims are at their mercy. They are criminals, but they ain't stupid. After all, they know how and where to buy guns.
The anti-gun lobby always stands united. The gun-rights lobby, not so much. It depends on the National Rifle Association to do its bidding.
Where are the average John and Jane Does who write letters to the editor, tweet and use Facebook on behalf of worthy causes?
Isn't the U.S. Constitution worth defending? Isn't the common-sense mantra "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," worthy of a debate?
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Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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