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Washington Post Asks Citizens How to Make City Safer. The Answer: More Cops, Not Gun Control

Police officers outside a Victorian style house (courtesy ammoland.com)

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Skyrocketing crime in major cities was a tragic consequence of the confluence of several factors. There was the coronavirus pandemic, prolonged lockdowns, defund the police riots and the rise in soft-on-crime city prosecutors that refused – and still do – to hold criminals accountable. Just one month ago, The Washington Post editorial board decried a devastating trend in the nation’s Capital that appears at odds with how things are going in other major metropolitans across the country.

“Violent crime declined in nearly every major U.S. city last year. The District was a tragic outlier,” the editors noted. They “took a hard look” at who was responsible for the city not becoming any safer. Washington, D.C., they pointed out, had the fifth-highest homicide rate in 2023 at just under 40 per 100,000, trailing only Memphis, St. Louis, Baltimore and Detroit.

What happened next most certainly shocked the editors. They asked 12 random D.C. residents their opinions on what could be done to make Washington, D.C., safer. It turns out these residents reflect the feelings of the larger American population that want police to have a strong presence and they want criminals prosecuted.

Remember that The Washington Post has never met a gun control scheme it didn’t favor. And for all the crowing from gun control activists about the historic surge in firearm sales over the past three to four years, in a city that is one of the strictest on gun control in the nation, not one answer called for more of it.

Cops on the Beat

If Washington, D.C., is so severely going to limit the ability of law-abiding residents to purchase and possess a firearm to exercise their Second Amendment rights for self-defense, then at least the city can provide adequate law enforcement services to do the job. However, in 2020, the D.C. City Council “slashed the police budget” by $15 million to appease activists’ calls demanding to defund the police. It worked – in 2023, the D.C. police force staffing level reached a half-century low. Residents noticed and are livid.

“We need more police officers so they are visible and can respond to crime as it is happening,” said D.C. resident K.D. Turner. “I called 911 when some young people were trying to break into a neighbor’s house and then started harassing me — but no one ever came.”

Susan Gundling, also of Washinton, D.C., kept it succinct, saying, “We need to hire more police officers.”

Suggesting D.C. hire more cops to walk the neighborhoods, Douglas Singer of Washington offered his request. “To reduce crime in D.C., I would get the police out of their cars and onto the streets. Sitting in their cars, officers can all too easily be on their phones or otherwise distracted. Even if they are stationed on the street with their cars, they should be outside their vehicles, visible to the public and paying attention.”

Get Tough

If D.C. residents get their wish for more cops to arrest the criminals breaking the law, their next concern is that those criminals are actually prosecuted and put behind bars. The problem is the prosecutors currently in charge don’t even believe that simple request is an effective solution.

The current high crime rate in D.C. led to a community discussion in February where angry residents gave community officials an earful. At the community panel, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb threw gasoline on the fire when he tried to assuage attendees concerns.

“We as a city and a community need to be much more focused on prevention… if we want to be safer in the long run,” AG Schwalb said in a now-viral clip. “We cannot prosecute and arrest our way out of it.”

The residents that The Washington Post spoke to strongly disagree. “There needs to be accountability when someone commits a crime. I think things have gone too far in removing accountability for perpetrators,” said K.D. Turner.

D.C. resident Alexander Ioannidis said, “Make sure there are real consequences for crimes and emphasize prosecution.”

Peter Michel of nearby Alexandria, Va., highlighted the scourge of carjackings plaguing the nation’s Capital, where car thieves are going into suburbs like Alexandria too.

“Current and potential carjackers need to know police will catch them and prosecutors will employ the full extent of the law against them,” Michel said. “Juvenile armed carjackers need to know that the justice system will prosecute them as adults, without opportunities for diversion programs or other second-chance options.”

The Kicker: Loosen Gun Restrictions

Of all the answers given of how Washington, D.C., can become a safer city, one resident had a clear understanding of the importance of the Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms. While no other respondent even mentioned increasing gun control, Ioannidis offered a seldom heard perspective.

“I would make it a little bit easier to own and carry a gun legally,” Ioannidis said in his answer. “In Tennessee, I had a lifetime carry permit, and shooting at the range with my dad was a recreational activity where we spent quality time. My 9mm handgun is still at my parents’ home in Tennessee because I am a law-abiding gun owner who wants to do this the right way (unlike the criminals who commit gun violence). But I would feel safer knowing there were good guys around who were responsible gun owners and could protect us while we waited for the police should something horrible happen.”

Ioannidis’s responses sound a lot like how most law-abiding gun owners, new and old, view gun ownership. Firearm industry data has shown March 2024 was the 56th month in a row with more than 1 million FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications for the purchase of a firearm. And on top of that, data reveals approximately 30 percent of those purchases were completed by first-time gun buyers, likely fed up with feeling helpless and vulnerable and wanting to take up their own personal and family security into their own hands.

Local media reports across the country show gun buyers are responsible, searching for training and educational classes and more opportunities to practice safe and responsible gun handling. That includes, or course, in Washington, D.C.

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