Washington, D.C. has historically been one of America’s most difficult places for law-abiding citizens to obtain and own a firearm, especially a handgun. D.C. had a complete ban on handguns since 1976 until a 2008 Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, that struck down what was ruled an unconstitutional ban.
“Local lawmakers in DC have managed to keep a de facto ban in tact by making it very difficult for law-abiding citizens to get guns,” said AWR Hawkins, Ph.D, a military historian and writer for Breitbart News. He pointed out in an interview for this article that D.C. officials’ gun control efforts only affect law-abiding citizens while criminals simply ignore the laws.
He pointed out that criminals did not pay attention to the past unconstitutional handgun ban or any of the D.C. rules on keeping guns unloaded and unlocked or disassembled. Dr. Hawkins explained his views on the previous formal ban and the now de facto ban:
These laws clearly give criminals the upper hand in at least two ways: 1) They make it clear that law-abiding citizens will be unarmed (defenseless) against an armed attack as they go through their daily routines on the streets of DC. 2) These laws are so burdensome they actually dissuade people from getting guns to begin with.
Dr. Hawkins’ analysis is reinforced greatly by the recent July 2, 2013 prison sentences handed down in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to six narcotics traffickers and money launderers. The U.S. Attorney’s office said “agents and detectives seized multiple handguns, more than a kilogram of powder cocaine, large quantities of crack cocaine, and over $40,000 in cash.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office described the investigation that led to the six arrests, prosecutions, and sentences as “a long-term investigation.” This indicates that the area’s gun-bans resulted in an extended period of time where the only people carrying firearms were criminals with no regard for law. The case further indicates that even with some of the nation’s strictest guns laws, it took a long-term effort to apprehend and charge gun-toting felons and prevent their guns from being a threat to law-abiding citizens who are left defenseless against such criminals.