The Wild, Wild West in Washington, DC

When I was a senior in high school in 1984 my parents took me to Washington, DC to visit some colleges. A university guide was giving us a tour of a campus adjoining a residential neighborhood when she stopped talking about the school and pointed down the street.

“You really don’t want to head that way, especially at night. It can be a little dangerous and that’s a rough part of town.”

I was shocked at what I heard. Here we were, in America’s capital, and a representative from a major college was warning us about the area’s crime.

You’d think our government would want to do everything it could to keep its citizens safe, especially in the country’s capital. Wrong.

Twenty-six years after I heard that shocking comment the grossly misguided conservative Supreme Court has made it easier than ever to carry guns in Washington, DC (see Justices May Extend Gun Owner Rights Nationwide, AP/NY Times, 3-2-10.)

And if you think the capital’s safety has improved since 1984, or that people will be safer with more guns on the street, think again. Washington, DC has consistently had a high crime rate for decades and this problem existed well before my high school visit.

As for more recent problems, two days ago an armed assailant shot two Pentagon officers when the triggerman tried to get into the building without proper credentials. Fortunately neither officer was seriously injured (see 2 Pentagon officers shot near Metro station, AP/msnbc.com, 3-5-10.)

So if “guns don’t kill people, people do” we should make it easier, thanks to the Supreme Court, for people to kill each other?

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