Opinion

Examiner Local Editorial: Punishing innocents won't stop violence

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Opinion,Local Editorial

Monday's shocking drive-by shooting on North Capitol Street could have been a lot worse. Unlike a similar incident on South Capitol Street in 2010, the culmination of a two-day orgy of violence sparked by a missing piece of costume jewelry that left five people dead, all 13 victims hospitalized with gunshot wounds survived this time. Providence or luck was with them.

The city's latest mass shooting occurred outside a low-income housing project one mile north of the U.S. Capitol on the edge of the trendy NoMa neighborhood. It was another stark reminder that although the District has made major progress since it was the murder capital of the nation, violent crime and its life-changing consequences for victims and their families remain a serious problem.

Councilman Tommy Wells, chairman of the public safety committee, wants to close all the nightclubs in the immediate area in response, even though the nightlife is one of the main draws for new residents moving into this quickly gentrifying part of the city.

Earlier this month, Councilwoman Mary Cheh sponsored a bill that would require law-abiding gun owners to purchase at least $250,000 worth of liability insurance to compensate victims of shootings they have nothing to do with, an unjustified overreach that the Washington Times called a "surcharge on the Second Amendment."

What these depressingly predictable "solutions" to the District's violence have in common is that they punish many innocent people for the crimes of a few. That would be bad enough, but the District has been down this road before, and its own history clearly shows that such interventions do more to restrict the liberties of law-abiding residents than to stop the criminals who prey on them.

In 2008, right after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city's 32-year-old gun ban, the council passed the most onerous gun registration laws in the country. It banned magazines capable of firing more than 10 rounds, required gun owners to reregister their weapons every three years and undergo a criminal background check every six years.

These restrictive gun laws did not prevent either of the drive-by shootings on North or South Capitol streets. In a city whose failing education system produces young adults without job skills or hope for the future, closing nightclubs and forcing law-abiding gun owners to buy insurance won't prevent the next shooting, either.

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