Written by Tim Lynch, Director of the Project on Criminal Justice at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
During his news conference yesterday, President Obama said he was interested in more firearms research and warned that those who opposed his legislative agenda might try to “gin up fear.” Those are interesting claims. Let’s take a brief look at some recent history here in the District of Columbia.
In 2007, when a federal appellate court ruled that DC’s strict gun control laws were unconstitutional, then-Mayor Adrian Fenty told reporters he was “outraged.” The idea that DC residents could keep a gun in their home for self-defense, he feared, would bring more crime and violence. Mayor Fenty and the city’s lawyers appealed the Heller case to the Supreme Court, but lost.
It’s been several years since that landmark legal battle – so what happened?
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, a former DC prosecutor wrote:
Since the gun ban was struck down, murders in the District have steadily gone down, from 186 in 2008 to 88 in 2012, the lowest number since the law was enacted in 1976. The decline resulted from a variety of factors, but losing the gun ban certainly did not produce the rise in murders that many might have expected. 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.