DC's gun crime
From an article in the Washingtonian:
"Gun violence is relatively rare across the Potomac River in Virginia, despite the fact that guns are easily bought and registered there. And there is much less gunplay in urbanized parts of Montgomery County, just over the line from DC.
Why? Activists outside the criminal-justice system blame poverty and the flow of illegal guns into DC; police and prosecutors point to cases like that of D’Angelo Thomas."
Police stopped his car; four guys and five pistols inside. Three of them were on probation -- and Thomas on probation for robbery (i.e., he was a felon in possession) and a gun violation. But DC hadn't done the paperwork to charge him in time for the initial appearance. The judge dismissed charges against all four. The paperwork arrived in the courtroom ten minutes later, but he'd already been released (I guess DC can be fast at that) and was gone. 11 days later he fatally shot someone.
"“Suspects arrested in DC don’t fear the criminal-justice system,” says Edgar Domenech, head of the DC field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “The majority of the gun cases go through Superior Court, and they don’t see any real jail time.”
DC police officer Tamika Hampton says she has made a number of arrests for CPWL—carrying a pistol without a license. “They get right back out on the street,” she says. “They know it when I make the arrest. After I process them, they walk out of court the same time I do. They laugh at me.”"
"Sounds tough, but any change in gun enforcement laws has to pass through a DC Council that sometimes seems to favor criminals over cops.
Since the 1970s, when it passed the landmark ban on handguns, the 13-member council has been among the nation’s most liberal legislatures on law-enforcement problems.
Until the law was changed two years ago, even a convicted felon caught with a gun in DC could be charged at most with a misdemeanor and would likely serve no time.
In early 2005 then-mayor Anthony Williams proposed reforms to toughen penalties on many crimes, including gun possession. Judiciary Committee chair Phil Mendelson held the bill in his committee for a year and a half.... Mendelson also doesn’t believe in holding violent offenders while they are awaiting trial. Mayor Williams had proposed changes in the law that would make it easier for judges to hold suspects. Mendelson stripped the provisions from the bill."