I am pretty wary of people who try to seek political gain out of terrible tragedies. And as sure as the sun comes up, the anti-gun lobby became among the first to run on autopilot and seek to politicize the senseless human killings in Tucson.
The anti-gun movement resurrected itself only hours after Saturday’s mayhem. At 10:34 on Saturday night, Politico filed an anti-gun story as Rep. Giffords and others battled for their lives: “Gun control activists slammed Arizona for its gun laws Saturday, which allow almost any adult who can pass a federal background check to purchase a firearm.”
Their auto-rant is consistent with their strategy of trying to exploit human heartbreak for political gain, sometimes even before the blood dries. When I heard their tired political calls for gun control, I decided to conduct a thought experiment. As it turns out, Washington, D.C., and Tucson have about equal populations. D.C. has 599,000 residents. Tucson has 544,000.
Arizona has some of the most open gun laws, including the right of citizens to carry a concealed weapon, a law passed only last year. In her first year in office, Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed a bill allowing loaded guns in bars and restaurants.
D.C. still has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. And despite the 2008 landmark Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia vs. Heller that gun ownership was a constitutional right, the real-world effect in D.C. has been negligible. Despite the headlines, Washington residents can only legally possess a disassembled and locked gun in their homes. Handguns can never leave a residence.
And as we all know from movie thrillers, Washington is also the headquarters for multiple federal law enforcement agencies. Their patrol cars can be seen roaming all over D.C. streets under many names: the FBI, the Capitol Police, the Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Park Police, the U.S. Marshals, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, among others. That doesn’t include a layer of specialized police that pepper the city, including the Smithsonian Police, the Library of Congress Police, the Supreme Court Police, the National Zoological Park Police, and the Federal Reserve Police. We’re not even talking the Department of Homeland Security, CIA, and Defense Intelligence agents that roam out of uniform. And of course, there are the local police agencies in D.C. beyond the regular police department like like the Metro subway police. In a word, there is a pervasive police presence throughout the nation’s capital.
So what are the differences in the homicide rates between Tucson and Washington, D.C.? As it turns out, they are staggeringly different. And if you obtain most of your news from liberal sources, you would believe the murder rate winner would go to that city located in the Wild, Wild West: Tucson, Arizona. And you would be wrong.
According to Tucson Police Department records, by December 2010, the city — which is located 60 miles north of the Mexican border — experienced 51 murders by the use of guns.
Washington police records, meanwhile, recorded 131 homicides in 2010, nearly three times the Tucson rate.
In fact, the extraordinarily high 2010 D.C. numbers constituted a decline in the city’s murder rate. A year after permitting D.C. residents to keep a handgun in their homes, the city experienced a 9% drop in killings, down from 144 in 2009. This development flies in the face of the traditional liberal ideology and analysis. When the Supreme Court ruled against gun control advocates in 2008, they loudy decried the Heller ruling, saying it would lead to more not less killlings. Sen. Dianne Feinstein typified many comments, predicting: “I believe the people of this great country will be less safe” because of the ruling.
So after having some of the most restrictive gun laws on the books, the District of Columbia continues to suffer one of the highest murder rates in the nation.
The bottom line: D.C. experiences 22 slayings for every 100,000 residents. Tucson has about 7 per 100,000.
My wish is that the gun control lobby, which continues to exploit terrible tragedies for political gain, will concede defeat in the real world and remain silent during national sorrow.
Or maybe the words of the late country music star Chet Atkins will one day come true: “Once you become predictable, no one’s interested anymore.”