- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 14, 2009


Politics overwhelmed common sense in the aftermath of Wednesday’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Less than two hours after the attack, gun-control groups were lobbying for strict new gun regulations to avoid more such tragedies. Gun control is not the solution and would not have prevented last week’s carnage.

A statement was released by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence before it was clear exactly what had happened. “This [attack] shows that having even more guns in more places is the wrong answer to America’s gun violence problem,” said Paul Helmke, the group’s president. “Congress should think very hard about their responsibilities for public safety before weakening gun laws in our nation’s capital, and should re-think their decision to allow more guns in our national public areas. It is dangerous to force more guns into places that American families expect to be gun-free and safe.”

A few facts are useful to dispel some gun-control myths. The District already bans civilians from carrying guns in public places. Wednesday’s shooter, James W. von Brunn, is a convicted felon who spent more than five years in prison for, among other charges, attempted armed kidnapping of federal officials. Because he was a felon, it would be illegal for him to own a gun even if ordinary law-abiding citizens could. Mr. von Brunn broke numerous laws in the course of his rampage. Current gun regulations didn’t stop the attack, and neither would new ones.

The legacy of strict gun control is increased violence. Violent crime rose after the District’s gun ban was imposed. After the city’s ban went into effect in early 1977, there was only one year (1985) when the D.C. murder rate was as low as the 1976 rate of 27 murders per 100,000 people. The District’s murder rate rose dramatically relative to the rates in other cities. In 15 of the first 30 years following imposition of the gun ban, the District’s murder rate ranked first or second among America’s largest 50 cities. In four other years, it ranked fourth. Before the gun ban, it was 15th.

It’s a mistake for gun grabbers to use the District as an example of a city that needs more gun control. The capital city’s long-standing, very strict gun-control laws have failed.

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