Imagine dining al fresco at a popular French brasserie in Washington DC. It’s a clear, summer night and the streets are buzzing with residents and tourists alike. You’re enjoying your Burger Americain, and suddenly gunshots ring out down the street. Diners duck and run for cover. You later hear that two men were injured just blocks away from where you were enjoying your meal. The stark realization hits: the heart of the nation’s capital is not safe.
Thursday night’s shooting on 14th Street was just the latest shocking crime to occur in a well-populated and upscale area of DC. Three people were shot and wounded just outside of Nationals Park during a heavily attended baseball game last week. In March, two teenagers attempted to carjack an Uber driver with a stun gun in the Navy Yard neighborhood, resulting in the driver’s death. There has been a 141 percent increase in carjackings in DC compared to last year. Many of them are violent and occur in broad daylight. Homicide and shooting rates are also up significantly in the nation’s capital this year.
The left will blame this rise in crime on the alleged proliferation of firearms — Jen Psaki did just that today. They will not tell you that DC already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, or that the recent shootings that wounded innocent bystanders appeared to be gang-related. Their response to this rise in crime will be to crack down on legal gun owners and manufacturers. President Joe Biden recently suggested allowing people to sue gun-makers for liability when someone uses one of their firearms to commit a crime. This approach will do little to stop the crime surge that is occurring in DC and in other major cities across the country.
Conservatives who are unfamiliar with DC’s local politics might be quick to blame Mayor Muriel Bowser. But Bowser, while loathsome in many ways, is generally supportive of the Metropolitan Police Department. DC’s police budget went down in 2021, but mainly because so many officers left the force last year. Bowser recommended hiring 135 new officers to replace them; in 2020 she proposed a budget increase for the police. The Defund the Police movement in DC is actually being pushed by the DC Council, which wants to redirect police funding to social workers and reduce the number of officers on the force.
Still, police were just minutes away or even right down the street when some of these shootings occurred in DC. It’s hard to argue that the entirety of the surge in crime can be pinned on the Defund the Police movement. Not being sufficiently discussed are the pandemic lockdown policies and their effect on crime. There is no question that closing schools, putting people out of work, canceling after-school programs and otherwise forcing people to stay home for a year have been significant drivers of the crime spree. Many of the violent carjackings in DC, for example, are committed by teenagers who say they were bored and looking for a thrill. Studies have linked unemployment to a rise in violent crime and, particularly, gang violence.
DC’s police chief also said Friday that he believes the rise in crime is ‘undoubtedly’ connected to illegal marijuana sales in the city. While cannabis is now legal in DC, illicit dealers can undercut the newly legitimate retailers on price. This runs counter to claims from police reform advocates, including some in the Trump administration, that illegal marijuana use and distribution are victimless crimes.
What makes the recent shootings in popular areas of the city so important and shocking is that the surge in crime is finally starting to affect DC’s cozy and wealthy elite. These woke wannabes voted for the DC Council members and national politicians that implement policies that make our cities unsafe. As is often the case, when the violence ends up on their doorstep, they start clamoring for cop cars on every corner. How sad, though, that it usually takes gunpowder in the escargots for these people to wake the hell up.