Friday, May 20, 2005

It is time to repeal the District’s gun laws. Just consider a few statistics: Five years before the D.C. Council banned nearly all firearms in 1976, the District’s murder rate fell from 37 to 27 per 100,000 people. In the five years after 1976, the murder rate rose to 35 per 100,000 people. Between 1976 and 1991, the D.C. homicide rate rose 200 percent. The national homicide rate during the same 15-year period rose just 12 percent.

According to the FBI, the District has the highest violent crime rate in the nation of any city over 500,000 people. Its homicide rate is eight times higher than the rest of the country and four times higher than similarly sized Ft. Worth, Texas. The comparison is apt. Texas has some of the most constitutional gun laws in the country.

Conservatives and libertarians have long argued that the simplistic logic behind stricter gun laws ignores the ability of criminals to obtain guns, which leads to a dangerous discrepancy in fire power between criminals and law-abiding citizens. Statistics and common sense support this. “Every woman in the District of Columbia should have the ability to protect herself in her home, particularly if she is there alone most of the time,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison Thursday.

The Texas Republican has just introduced her D.C. Personal Protection Act, which aims for sensible gun laws. A similar bill is moving through the House. We urge Congress to pass both bills quickly. “It’s obvious that this experiment in gun control has failed,” said Sen. John Cornyn, a co-sponsor.

Resistance will undoubtedly be stiff and hyperbolic. Said D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton: “They’re trying to see to it that more children get killed.” The delegate should apologize for her demagoguery. The fact is that people are losing their lives because criminals are armed while law-abiding citizens are defenseless. Repeal the handgun ban, now.

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