Notes on the D.C. Circuit Court's Decision on Banning Guns
For several decades, D.C.’s gun ban has served an important educational purpose. With the nation’s strictest gun-control laws, gun-control advocates have been embarrassed that the city has frequently had the highest murder rate of any large city in the U.S. This was hardly the case prior to the ban. Yet, the D.C. Circuit Court striking down the ban will prove just as embarrassing because the long predicted surge in violent crime will not occur.
Surely the ban cannot be blamed for all the District’s crime problems. The police department has had severe problems over hiring standards as well as management and morale issues.
But the long-term changes in crime rates before and after the ban are difficult to ignore. In the five years before Washington’s ban in 1976, the murder rate fell from 37 to 27 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose back up to 35. During this same time, robberies fell from 1,514 to 1,003 per 100,000 and then rose by over 63 percent, up to 1,635. The five-year trends are not some aberration. In fact, while murder rates have varied over time, during the 30 years since the ban, the murder rate has only once fallen below what it was in 1976.
D.C.’s experience strongly suggests that gun bans disarm only law-abiding citizens while leaving criminals free to prey on the populace.