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D.C. has seen 10 shootings that resulted in homicide since Wednesday the 17th, including that of 11-year-old Karon Brown. That means the city has seen at least 96 homicides this year, and is on track to exceed its 2018 homicide count, which exceeded the 2017 count.
City officials are now thinking out loud about how best to respond to gun violence, and Police Chief Peter Newsham is one of them. Late yesterday he said he doesn’t think the penalties for gun offenses are strict enough. Currently, the mandatory minimum penalties for unlawful possession of a firearm range from one to 15 years in prison.
“We need consequences that change behavior,” said Newsham during a press conference on Thursday about illegal gun trafficking. (FYI: Law enforcement located more than 1,000 illegal guns within D.C. this year.)
“What I would like to see when we do arrest somebody and do convict somebody of illegal firearm possession in the District of Columbia, that the consequences for that behavior changes the behavior so they don’t do it again,” he added.
Last year, 50 percent of people arrested for homicide had a prior gun arrest, said Newsham. Now, he and “criminal justice partners” are deciding how best to ensure that people convicted of lesser gun charges don’t commit murder when released.
It’s not clear what Newsham means, as he wouldn’t elaborate beyond “consequences come in a lot of forms.”City Paper reached out for further insight, but D.C. police spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck only added that there are ongoing discussions with a number of stakeholders.
A public health expert’s two cents:
“We know from deterrence literature, it’s most effective when consequences are swift and certain,” says Cassandra Crifasi, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. She says we don’t need longer consequences, or long-term sentences.
“I see all of those prior interactions [with police] as missed points of intervention … That’s an opportunity to help that person find resources—connect them with an opportunity of employment,” she adds.
A reminder from Crifasi: “We know that people carry guns for a variety of reasons: They want to commit a crime but sometimes they could be a victim of a crime so they carry a gun to protect themselves.”
Here’s what advocates think of the city’s response thus far:
Invest in a community-based approach—namely the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act. Rachel Usdan of Moms Demand Action’s D.C. chapter and April Goggans, the core organizer for Black Lives Matter DC, independently made this point to City Paper.
“This is the kind of program that should be expanded—the gun violence prevention programs that already started like the [Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement] and Cure the Streets need to have more funding,” says Usdan. Cities that do this notice a difference.
“The fact that Newsham is conducting more meetings to discuss, as if starting from scratch, approaches to addressing violence with people who have prior involvement with law enforcement drives home the fact that neither Newsham or [Mayor Muriel] Bowser has ever truly been invested in the [NEAR] Act,” says Goggans. “The fact is that more arrests, higher penalties, longer sentences do not deter or reduce crime and only fill prisons. To be specific, that is why they were revised in D.C. in the first place.”
MORE NEWS YOU CAN USE:
- Update: Khepra Anu will get to continue operating his business on H Street NE after reaching a settlement in court with his landlord on Thursday. [WCP]
- Read about how the heat redraws the city in the latest edition of Scene and Heard [WCP]
WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING:
- “My 2001 football team had 28 players,” said a longtime D.C. coach. “Only five are still living.” [Post]
- A D.C. court tells a real estate and property management company that it can’t include language like “NOT ACCEPTING VOUCHERS AT THIS TIME” in ads for apartments in southeast D.C. [DCist]
- Amtrak tries to compete with air travel with once-a-day nonstop Acela train from D.C. to NYC. Pay anywhere between $130 and $276 for a 2 hours 35 minutes commute. [WAMU]
LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
D.C. firm calls the District’s program to promote local, minority-owned businesses a “sham.” [DC Line]
Ward 8 ANC Kendall Simmons pleaded guilty to threatening his child’s mother. [WCP]
Which D.C. councilmembers agree with each other most often? [DC Geekery]
YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes(tips? email@example.com)
If your ideal happy hour includes oysters, head here. [Washingtonian]
Taylor Gourmet announces the first three shops that will reopen under new ownership. [WBJ]
A tipping victory for DoorDash workers. [Eater]
ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fantastic D.C. film screenings and where to find them. [WCP]
Here’s what your kids are reading this summer at DCPL. [WCP]
The Library of Congress adds a yearlong literary series to its catalog. [DCist]
Check out this underground mural in Northwest. [Post]
SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? email@example.com)
Meet Brett Greenberg, the 33-year-old Baltimore County, Maryland, native who the Wizards recently named their assistant general manager. [WCP]
World Cup champion and Virginia native Ali Krieger threw out the first pitch at the Nationals game last night. The Nats lost to the Rockies, 8-7, after blowing a ninth-inning lead. [NBC Sports Washington]
Tonight: Hear folk-infused tunes from mid-2000s indie rockers Fruit Bats. 7 p.m. at Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. $20–$40. Or shake it at an all-female, all-local dance party featuring Vodkatrina and Tezrah. 9 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $15.
Saturday: Get outdoors with anti-diet-culture, anti-body-shaming group Fat Girls Hiking for a friendly two-mile trail hike. 10 a.m. at Ball’s Bluff Regional Park, Balls Bluff Road NE, Leesburg. Free–$15.
Sunday: Novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn will speak to Lit on H Street book club about her bestselling novel Patsy. 6 p.m. at Solid State Books, 600 H St. NE. Free.
Office of future planning: Tickets are on sale now for two shows at The Anthem: Young Thug and Machine Gun Kelly on Oct. 22 (8 p.m. at 901 Wharf St. SW. $50–$249) and for Alessia Cara on Oct. 26 (7:30 p.m. at 901 Wharf St. SW. $40–$175).