It’s Not the Guns!

As 2021 wound down, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser sent out a public missive focusing, again, on illegal guns as the cause of D.C.’s ever-rising homicide rate. 

For the last six years D.C. Witness has been tracking every homicide in D.C. and we have pointed out, and will likely have to again, that pointing to guns is too simplistic. 

We could once more point to the data that the most prevalent motivation to kill someone in D.C. is petty disputes. We could point to the fact that illegal guns are readily and legally available JUST across the bridge in Virginia (and become illegal only once they cross into the city), so even removing them all would just create a new vibrant market. We could point to the average age of victims and alleged perpetrators as being in their late 20’s, which shows this is something more than a “youth issue.” 

But there is one statistic from 2021 that is perhaps most disturbing of all, that reinforces guns are a symptom, not the cause.

In 2021, stabbing deaths in DC doubled from 14 the year before to 27. This is something that presents a new frightening trend. 

What is significant is that stabbing is a different level of violence. It is personal and physical, and not done at a distance with minimal pressure applied by a finger. 

Rather than guns as the cause of all the killing, it points to a culture of violence that the data suggests is becoming the new normal in our city. 

So yes, getting rid of the illegal guns would definitely be good but it is too facile to say it is just the guns. And it ignores a trend that needs to be addressed now rather than when it is the stuff of press conferences, or other Mayoral emails.