D.C.’S crime so­lu­tion: Be a vic­tim

City of­fi­cial in­sists res­i­dents shouldn’t de­fend them­selves

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

Washington res­i­dents are up in arms, though not armed. With vi­o­lent crime up 40 per­cent in the first two months of the year — in­clud­ing dou­ble the num­ber of rob­beries at gun­point — res­i­dents are look­ing for ways to pro­tect them­selves. Elected of­fi­cials and po­lice have no so­lu­tion.

Take Ben­jamin Port­man, who lives on Capi­tol Hill, part of the 1st Dis­trict, where vi­o­lent crime has in­creased the most. A to­tal of 110 in­ci­dents have been re­ported in 2012, a 69 per­cent jump, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics ob­tained by The Washington Times. Two weeks ago, Mr. Port­man’s male room­mate and his girl­friend were robbed by three armed men in ski masks as they walked home on a well-lit street.

That spurred Mr. Port­man to at­tend a com­mu­nity meet­ing on the in­creased vi­o­lence, which was held last week by D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Demo­crat. Mr. Port­man asked of­fi­cials why the city makes it so dif­fi­cult for law-abid­ing res­i­dents to reg­is­ter guns and re­fuses to al­low them to carry weapons out­side of the home. Paul Quan­der, the Dis­trict’s deputy mayor for public safety and jus­tice, re­sponded that crime vic­tims should give the criminals what they want. Mr. Port­man protested, say­ing, “But how do you know you’re go­ing live and sur­vive? You’re com­pletely at their mercy.”

Mr. Quan­der thinks vic­tim­hood is prefer­able to self-de­fense. “The prob­lem is, if you are armed, it es­ca­lates the sit­u­a­tion,” Mr. Quan­der told res­i­dents. “It is much bet­ter, in my opin­ion, to be scared, to be fright­ened, and even if you have to be, to be in­jured, but to walk away and sur­vive. You’ll heal, and you can re­place what­ever was taken away.”

Kristo­pher Bau­mann, head of the D.C. po­lice union, also was at Ms. Cheh’s meet­ing. “Hav­ing the deputy mayor for public safety pub­licly an­nounce that be­ing vic­tim­ized is some­thing we, as res­i­dents of the Dis­trict, must ac­cept is dis­grace­ful,” he told The Washington Times. “At the same time, Mr. Quan­der failed to of­fer a sin­gle short- or long-term so­lu­tion to fight­ing crime in this city.”

The Washington Times caught up with Po­lice Chief Cathy L. Lanier on Wed­nes­day and asked for her re­ac­tion to Mr. Quan­der’s com­ments. The po­lice chief did not re­mem­ber ex­actly what was said, but she said she thought Mr. Quan­der was re­fer­ring only to vic­tims of theft, not phys­i­cal as­sault. “We al­ways say, if you are a vic­tim of a rob­bery, your best thing to do is com­ply and try to be safe,” the chief said.

Mr. Port­man said Chief Lanier ap­proached him af­ter the meet­ing, but he left un­sat­is­fied. “I think if the chief re­al­ized that the po­lice can­not pro­tect us all the time, ev­ery­where, she might come to the con­clu­sion that it’s the right thing for her to rec­om­mend re­lax­ing the gun-con­trol laws in the city,” he said in an in­ter­view. “I have the right to pro­tect my­self if the po­lice can’t.”

While the coun­cil is work­ing to ease some reg­is­tra­tion re­quire­ments, that’s not enough. The city needs to rec­og­nize that the Sec­ond Amend­ment guar­an­tees not just the right to keep arms at home, but also to bear them. Do­ing so would give criminals rea­son to think twice be­fore as­sault­ing res­i­dents.

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