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Crime in D.C.


On Saturday night, much of Columbia Road was blocked off by sirens and tape. It says something about Washington that this didn't strike me as particularly abnormal. Another shooting, probably. And that's exactly what it was. But this time, it was a 9-year-old boy who'd been shot through a door after his family had rushed inside their apartment to escape a robbery attempt. It is appalling, of course. But it has not, so far as I've noticed, been galvanizing. That's just D.C., most of us think sadly. Crime is like bad weather. You just hope it doesn't catch you outside. But Left for LeDroit tries to shake us out of our stupor:

[W]e as a city have become too used to this savagery, which is actually abnormal. Washington’s homicide rate for last year was around 32 murders per 100,000 residents, still far off from the 1991 peak of 80.6, but far above the national average (5.8) and more than five times the rate of New York City (6.2).

Making Washington a world-class city requires addressing some of the sicker aspects of our civic culture, particularly our extraordinary rates of violence and our tolerance of violence. We should stand as examples of what a city can be: the elegant, prosperous, and peaceful pinnacle of human civilization and not a place bleeding from occasional bouts of unrelenting barbarism.

You know who doesn't have much of a job right now? Bill Bratton.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 17, 2009; 10:37 AM ET
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As a resident of VA, I feel I need to apologize to the citzens of DC for the contribution my state's Neanderthal gun laws (or lack thereof) contribute to the apalling violence. At the same time, I do feel the need to comment that the chart probably should compare the homicide rate to that in other large cities, not in the country as a whole. DC's would be higher, but I don't think the difference would be so dramatic.

Posted by: exgovgirl | November 17, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

As a resident of Virginia I would like to point out that Arlington, Alexandria, and the rest of NoVa somehow manage to survive the "Neanderthal" gun laws without the homicide rate suffured in the District. Of course, gang bangers shooting up neighborhoods in Virginia are likely to find themselves out gunned and when (not if) they are caught, Virginia knows how to dispose of them. A lesson D.C. has never learned.

Posted by: WoodbridgeVa1 | November 17, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

This post is a bit unconvincing. Is the problem that DC residents don't care about murders? Or is it that DC is filled with poor people with little hope, and unlike New York or Philly, it has not expanded to include former suburban areas that would increase its middle class population. DC is much like Baltimore, a relatively small big city with a lot of poor people.

Posted by: mjames2 | November 17, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Newark NJ recently had a "take guns off the street program" ended abruptly because of funding.

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 17, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I think Fenty is way too much of a control freak to bring someone on with the cachet of Bill Bratton. He brought in Rhee, but he's staked everything on the schools and those two are politically joined at the hip whether they want to be or not. Bratton would be too independent.

Posted by: Yossarian79 | November 17, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Call me a cynic, but I don't know if Bratton would leave his lucrative security-consulting gig ( to head up yet another PD...

Posted by: daralind | November 17, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

There must be something wrong with that chart. I thought D.C. was a no gun zone.

Posted by: msoja | November 17, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Well, how many DC residents are still feeling the decline in the murder rate since the bloody 80s and 90s? I know I am. (OK, I live in VA. But I don't feel like I'm taking my life in my hands when I cross the river any more, which was true until about 10 years ago.)

Is VA still really the gun-running capital of the East coast? If so, let's compare homicide rates of other Eastern cities!

Posted by: ajw_93 | November 18, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

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