May 23, 2024

Crime in Washington, D.C., has become so rampant that Congress is now issuing tips to visitors and residents to help them avoid becoming victims of violent criminals. Yet, the district has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, which prevents people from possessing the means by which they can defend themselves if they find themselves in an encounter with a violent criminal.

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House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil (R-WI) cautioned about crime in the district. 

House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil, (R-Wis.) on Monday warned would-be visitors to Washington, D.C. of rising crime in the nation’s capital and advised people how to respond to criminal acts and to minimize the risk of being victimized by violence like carjackings.

The District of Columbia is currently struggling to contend with increased criminal activity that has many questioning the safety of living in the city at all. Compared to this point in 2022, data from the D.C. Metropolitan Police shows that homicides are up 28% and on pace to reach their highest levels in more than 20 years. Robberies, meanwhile, are up 67%. Residents have testified to increasingly driving for short distances due to fear of going outside.

Amid the crime wave, the Mexican consulate in Washington, D.C., has warned its citizens that “The city of Washington, D.C. is experiencing a significant increase in crime in areas previously considered safe. Take precautions. In an emergency, call 911.”

The tips range from refraining from wearing expensive jewelry while traveling on public transportation to being more mindful of keeping valuables in parked vehicles.

Recommendations included not wearing jewelry on public transportation and leaving no valuables visible within one’s parked car to avoid attracting thieves.

To limit more aggressive incidents such as carjacking and armed robbery, some suggested leaving space between cars at red lights should one need to flee. Minimizing time using a mobile phone while walking to limit distractions was also suggested.

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Exercising best practices to avoid becoming a victim is all well and good. But it would be even better if visitors and residents were allowed to carry firearms to defend themselves. Unfortunately, the district denies people this right.

The District of Columbia v. Heller case in 2008 affirmed the right to possess firearms in D.C. But this still came with a set of “reasonable” regulations that include mandatory registration and onerous requirements for concealed carry permits. In essence, they have banned the majority of people from carrying firearms by making the requirements so inaccessible that only wealthier residents can afford to jump through all of the hoops.

The anti-gunner crowd argues that these regulations are necessary to reduce crime and prevent gun-related violence. But the situation in D.C. paints a different picture. When people are prevented from carrying firearms outside their homes, they are at a clear disadvantage against criminals who flout these laws with impunity. The result is a population that is increasingly vulnerable to heightened crime rates.

Steil noted the gravity of the situation during a recent television interview. He pointed out that over 5,000 cars have been stolen in the district this year. About 700 of these were violent carjackings. These aren’t just simple statistics; they are indicative of a city under siege by violent criminals.

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“It’s unfortunate, but it’s also true that the advice that was given today included telling people to give space between their car and the car in front of them when they pull up to a stop sign or a stoplight so they can make an evasive maneuver if they have to,” he added. “That’s how out of control crime is in Washington, D.C., and it’s not only carjackings, and car thefts, but we’re seeing it with assault with burglary, robbery, murder.”

Unfortunately, the situation probably won’t be rectified anytime soon. This means that unarmed residents will continue to be vulnerable to violent criminals.

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