In a very smart letter to the editor of the Washington Post (“What didn’t happen after the D.C. handgun ban ended“: may require registration), Mr. William Ciucci notes that the Post‘s reporting of the lowest absolute number of homicides in DC in 45 years did not mention the fact that 2009 was the first year since 1976 when residents could legally own handguns. He proposes a thought experiment:
If the numbers had, tragically, gone the other way, and 2009 had the highest number of murders in nearly a half-century, imagine the hue and cry that would have gone up from opponents of Second Amendment rights. There can be no doubt that The Post’s editorial page would have cried ominously that the increase was linked to the court decision, and anti-gun activists of all stripes would have been hysterical.
Actually, the Post‘s editorial writers are usually more thoughtful. The headline writers, however, would have almost certainly spun the case that way. Mr. Ciucci is clearly smart and doesn’t attribute the lower homicide rate (note that it is in absolute numbers, not numbers per thousand of population) to the lifting of the gun ban. Such matters are complicated. But you can be certain that the opponents of individual rights would have spun it the other way had the trend moved in the other direction.
(Note: I was one of the original plaintiffs in the case and had the great pleasure of being there when the case [District of Columba v. Heller] was argued before the Supreme Court. I’m currently a plaintiff, along with George Lyon, Edward Raymond, Amy McVey, and the Second Amendment Foundation, in the case of Palmer v District of Columbia. We’re represented by Alan Gura, who argued the case that struck down the ban on ownership and possesion of guns. In this case, we seek vindication not only of the right to “keep” arms, but of the right to “bear” them, both of which are specifically enumerated as rights in the Constitution.)